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Full text of "Beasts & men : folk tales"

NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



3 3333 20707 0091 



NY PUBUC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



3 3333 08119 5881 



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Uniform with this Volume 

CHRISTMAS TALES OF 
FLANDERS 

With Plates in Colour and many 

Black and White Illustrations by 

JEAN DE BOSSCHERE 

"This handsome and well-illustrated book is 
one of the most attractive we have seen this 
season. It gives us renderings of the popular 
fables and legends current in Flanders and 
Brabant which have a colour and quaintness 
of their own, yet combines adventures with an 
unobtrusive and so more effective moral." 

Saturday Review. 

"There are delightful stories; even more 
attractive than the letterpress are M. de 
Bossch^e's illustrations. Conceived with 
inexhaustible fancy, full of quaint detail, and 
set down with a fascinating naivety they 
embody the characters and scenes of the 
tales with a fullness of particularism that 
should provide endless entertainment to 
youthful readers. They are the best and 
most complete series of designs yet produced 
by the artist."^ — Connoisseur. 

"The illustrations by Jean de Bossch&-e are 
of a droll fancy. The artist has a notable 
power of the grotesque, and both in colour 
and black and white he uses it." 

Daily Telegraph. 

LONDON: WmiAM HEINEMANN 



FOLK TALES OF 
BEASTS AND MEN 




" HE TORE A RIB FROM HIS SIDE AND CUT OFF MY EAR " 

[See page 21] 



BEASTS & MEN 

FOLK TALES COLLECTED 
IN FLANDERS AND 

ILLUSTRATED BY 
JEAN DE BOSSCHI&RE 




LONDON WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
NEWYORKD0DD,MEAD6C0MPANr 



At)^14^!r 



London! William Heinemann, igi8 



T 
3 







CONTENTS 



UPS AND DOWNS ''^,^[, \ 

THE THREE MONKEYS'; J J jl; » :.•• 

HOW THE GOLDFINCH.GOT BIS, COLOURS 

THE COCK AND THE FOX ... . 

THE MOST CUNNING ANIMAL 

SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

WHY CATS ALWAYS WASH AFTER EATING 

THE CHORISTERS OF ST. GUDULE 

THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

THE MAGIC CAP 

SUGAR-CANDY HOUSE 

POOR PETER 

THE PEASANT AND HIS ASS 



PAGE 
I 

5 

10 

19 

23 
40 

5° 

83 

91 

95 
103 

vii 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



THE KING OF THE BIRDS 109 

A DRUM FULL OF BEES 116 

THE DRUNKEN ROOKS 131 

THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS AND BEASTS 133 

THE END OF THE WORLD 139 

THE REWARD OF THE WORLD 147 

ONE BAD TURN BEGETS ANOTHER 153 

THE PEASANT AND THE SATYRS 159 

THE TWO FRIENDS AND THE BARREL OF GREASE 163 

WHY THE BEAR HAS A STUMPY TAIL 168 

THE WITCH'S CAT 173 



vm 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



IN COLOUR 

"He tore a rib from his side and cut off my ear" 

" I hope you will enjoy your drink. Good-bye I " 

All the Birds were very proud of their Appearance 

"What else can I do!" asked Chanticleer 

The Trial of Reynard the Fox 

"You have merited death a hundred times" 

Jan and Jannette 

Birds going to the Race 

The Battle of the Birds and Beasts 

An immense Dragon lying by the Water-side 

The Satyrs' Village 

"All you have to do is to sit on the ice" 



Frontispitce 



Facing 
page 



2 
12 

44 
68 
So 
90 
112 

132 
148 
160 
170 



uc 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
IN BLACK AND WHITE 

PAGE 

There he met Mistress Goat i 

The Farmer put her in the Fold 3 

Up and Down 4 

Three Friends S 

Little James got pushed over the Side 7 

" Pull, brother, pull, and we'll soon have him out " 8 

He happened to look in the Mirror 9 

Birds io 

The Angel whose Mission it was to colour the Birds ii 

He took a Place among the most Beautiful of them all 12 

Song of Gratitude 13 

The Fox was not a little frightened 14 

" Don't go away, my dear friend," said the Fox 17 

" That is true," said the Cock to himself 18 

The Soldier, the Fox, and the Bear 19 

There was a Flash, a loud Report ... 21 

The two Heroes of the Story 22 

Sponsken, the Giant, and the Princess 25 

He tossed the Bird into the Air 27 

" The three animals are a bear, a unicorn, and a wild boar " 28 

The Bear followed him into the Hollow Trunk 29 

With a mighty Crash he ran full tilt into the Tree 31 

Sponsken, the Princess, the Glant 33 

All the Attendants fled at once 37 

Married a Girl 39 

The Cat and the Sparrow , 40 

" I've just been turned out of house " 41 

" They laugh at me " 43 

" Hush ! " said Chanticleer 45 

Breaking the Glass to Smithereens 47 

The Robbers lost no Time in decamping 49 

The King 50 

At the Head of the Procession marched Chanticleer 53 

The Fox's Chateau 55 

The poor Beast roared with Pain 57 

He immediately called a Council of his Ministers 59 

" Take me to this house " 6i 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

" Tybert and Bruin are badly knocked about " 63 

" And caused him to jump at least twenty feet into the air " 64 

" I WAS mischievous and unruly " 67 

" And pearls too ? " she whispered 69 

" I SAW HIM STOP at THE FOOT OF A GREAT TREE " 7I 

The Conspiracy gained Adherents every Day 73 

The Suit of Golden Armour Emrik wore 75 

They walked in Silence 77 

Reynard sprang at his Throat 79 

The King of that Land caught him 82 

Calf and Goat 83 

" You were being made a fool of " 85 

Jan and the Three Students 87 

Twirled the Cap round Three Times on his Finger 89 

And dipped them into the Horse-trough 90 

Were carried safely over to the other Bank 91 

" Gr-r-r, I'll eat them up ! " 93 

Wolf's Head 94 

Jaco Peter and his Friend 95 

" Smear yourself from head to foot " 97 

Reynard seized the Opportunity to warn his Friend 99 

An Exclamation of Astonishment 100 

Away went the Coaches 102 

" Oh dear me, that's twice ! " 103 

" Hallo, my man," cried the Lord 105 

" I can't get up, because I'm dead ! " 107 

Sent him sprawt-ing from Top to Bottom of the Stairs 108 

The Eagle and the Kinglet 109 

" Is OUR king then only to be looked at ? " m 

There was the Sound as of a rushing mighty Wind 113 

He is known as the Kinglet 115 

DONATUS 116 

There was a Knot-hole in the wooden Floor 119 

" I did not hear you knock " 121 
The Swarm of Bees within began to buzz about in Great Commotion 123 

Beating another Tattoo upon the Drum 124 

The Beadle, too, stumbled and fell 125 

He had faithfully carried out all his Instructions 127 

It was the Labourer dressed in the Drummer's Clothes 128 

xi 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PACE 



Rode straight into a Marsh 130 

When the Fifty Rooks began to fly he could not get Free 131 

The Rooks 132 

Fighting 133 

The Kinglet warned him to be very careful not to bdzz 135 

The Great Offensive began 137 

The Fox 138 

The Cat rushed out of the Room 139 

The Cat, the Dog, the Cock, the Rabbit, and the Goose 141 

" See if you can espy a house " 142 

" Jump on to my beautiful curly tail " 143 

The other Four got on to the Dog's Back 145 

Sent me flying through the Air 146 

The Dragon 147 

" My sight is so weak and my powers so feeble " 149 

" Does the dragon mind getting under the stone again ? " 151 

Two Foxes 152 

Nothing was left of the Fishes 153 

The biggest and fattest Fish 155 

Stretched himself out at full length 156 

" I willingly give you yours ! " 158 

" Why are you blowing your soup ? " 159 

" There is no place in my house for a man who can blow hot 

AND cold" 161 

Satyr 162 

The Two Friends 163 

" Where has all our grease gone ? " 165 

Begun, Half-done, All-done 167 

Mrs. Bruin and Reynard 168 

"After a time the fish vwll come to bite at it" 169 

" One, two, three . . . ! " 171 

Born with a little stumpy Tail 172 

Margot and the Cat 173 

She meant to keep her there until she had grown Bigger and Fatter 175 

Paddling with her Broom 177 

He was really a Prince 179 



Xll 




There he met Mistress Goat 




UPS AND DOWNS 

HE summer had been very hot. Not a drop of 
rain had fallen for many weeks, and there was 
drought in the valley where the animals lived. 
The streams had dried up and the springs had 
ceased to flow. Master Fox took up his pipe 
and went out to take a walk under the lime- 
trees to think things over. There he met Mistress Goat, 
all dressed up in her Sunday clothes. 

" Good morrow, cousin," said he. " You are very fine 
to-day." 

" Yes," she answered, " I put on my best dress because 
it helps me to think. What we are to do for water I do not 
know. We have finished all that we had in the barrel, and 
unless we can find some more very quickly I and my children 
will die of thirst." 

" To tell you the truth," said the Fox, " I was thinking 
the same thing. I am so dry that my tongue is sticking to 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

the roof of my mouth, and I cannot even smoke my pipe 
with pleasure. What do you say to going together in search 
of water ? Four eyes are better than two, any day in the 
week." 

" Agreed," said the Goat ; and away they started together. 
For a long time they looked everj^where, but not a trace of 
water could they find. All of a sudden the Goat gave a 
cry of joy, and running up to her the Fox saw that she had 
discovered a well, on the brink of which she was standing 
gazing at the cool water far below. 

" Hurrah ! " cried the Fox. " We are saved ! " 

" Yes," answered the Goat, " but see how far down the 
water is ! How are we to get at it ! " 

" You just leave that to me," said the Fox. " I know all 
about wells — I've seen them before. All one has to do is 
to get into the bucket which is hanging by the rope and 
descend as smoothly and as safely as you please. I'll go first, 
just to show you the way." 

So the Fox got into the bucket, and the weight of him 
caused it to descend, while the empty bucket at the other 
end of the rope rose to the top of the well. A minute 
afterwards he was at the bottom, leaning over the side of 
the pail and greedily lapping up the water. Nothing had 
ever tasted so delicious. He drank and drank until he could 
hold no more. 

" Is it good ? " cried Mrs. Goat from above, dancing 
with impatience. 

" It is like the purest nectar ! " answered the Fox. " Get 
into the bucket quickly and come down and join me." 

So the goat stepped into the bucket, which immediately 
began to descend with her weight, while at the same time 
the bucket with Master Fox in it began to rise to the surface. 
The two met half-way. 

" How is this ? " asked Mrs. Goat in surprise. " I 
thought you were going to wait for me ! " 

" Ah, my dear friend," answered Reynard vnth. a 
wicked grin, " it is the way of the world. Some go 
2 



'I HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR DRINK. GOOD-BYE!' 




THE FARMER PUT HER IN THE FOLD 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

up and some go down. I hope you will enjoy your drink. 
Good-bye ! " 

And as soon as he got to the top he jumped out of the 
bucket and ran oflF at top speed. 

So poor Mrs. Goat had to stay there at the bottom of 
the well until the farmer came and found her, half dead 
with cold. When at last she was rescued she found that 
she had only exchanged one prison for another, for the 
farmer put her into the fold with his own sheep and goats, 
and so she lost her liberty for ever. 





Three Friends 




THE THREE MONKEYS 

HERE were once three monkeys who were going 
for a voyage in a balloon. (This was in Monkey- 
land, far, far away and ever so long ago.) The 
three were so much alike that it was impossible 
to tell one from the other, and to make matters 
worse each of them answered to the name of 
James. Such a thing would never do in the crew of a balloon, 
so the old monkey who was in command decided that each 
of the three should have a different name. The first was to 
be called James, the second Jemmy, and the third Little 
James. 

So far so good. The three monkeys climbed into the 
balloon, the ground ropes were untied, and the voyage was 
begun. When they had reached a height of some hundreds 
of feet, the captain wished to give an order, so he called to the 
first monkey : " James ! " 

" Aye aye, sir," said all the three, running up to him. 

5 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" I called James," said the captain, looking from one to 
the other. 

" Well, I am James," answered the first monkey. 

" No, no. James is my name," said the second. 

" And mine too," said the third. 

" How can you be James if I am he ? " cried the first 
angrily. 

" I tell you James is my name ! " cried the second. 

" No, mine ! " 

And so the three monkeys began to quarrel and dispute. 
Words led to blows, and soon they were tumbling about all 
over the car of the balloon, biting, scratching, and pummelling 
while the captain sat in his chair and bawled to them to stop. 
Every minute it seemed as though the car would overturn, 
and the end of it was that Little James got pushed over the 
side. He turned a beautiful somersault, and fell down, 
down, down through the air, landing in a soft bed of mud, 
into which he sank so that only his face and the top of his 
yellow cranium were visible. 

" Help ! help ! " bawled Little James at the top of his voice. 

Up ran a pair of monkeys belonging to the neighbourhood 
and stood looking at him, 

" He's in the mud, brother," said one. 

" Up to his neck," said the other. " How silly ! " And 
they both began to grin. 

" Help ! " cried Little James again, more faintly, for he 
was sinking deeper, and the mud was nearly at the level of 
his mouth. " Pull me out ! Pull me out ! " 

" Ah, but how ? " asked the first monkey, looking at him 
gravely. 

" Wait a minute," cried the second, " I have an idea ! " 
and he pulled out of his pocket one of those leather suckers 
on a string which boys use to lift stones. Moistening the 
disc, he clapped it on to Little James's head, and began to 
tug on the cord with all his might. 

" Hey ! " cried the other monkey, running to help. 
" Pull, brother, pull, and we'll soon have him out ! " 
6 




LITTLE JAMES GOT PUSHED OVER THE SIDE 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Crack ! The cord snapped suddenly, and the two monkeys 
tumbled head over heels. Never mind ; they got another 
cord to repair the damage, and this time they succeeded in 
pulling Little James clear of the mud. 

Did I say Little James ? Alas ! it was only half of him ! 
His rescuers had pulled so hard that he had broken off short 

in the middle, and 
his two legs were left 
embedded in the 
mud. 

" Dear me ! " said 
the first monkey, 
scratching his head. 
*' This is very sad. 
The poor fe'low has 
lost his legs. What 
shall we do ? " 

" Let us make him 
some wooden ones ! " 
said the other. 

So said, so done. 
They made him a 
beautiful pair of 
wooden legs, and 
Little James hobbled 
painfully home. By 
the time he reached 
his house he felt so 
ill that he went 
straight to bed. " I believe I am going to die," he said to 
himself. " I must make my will and set down the cause 
of my death." 

So he sent for pen and paper and began to write. Before 
very long, however, he stopped and began to scratch his 
head in perplexity. " If I am going to die," he thought, 
" I must be going to die of something ! Now, what am 
I going to die of .? This must be carefully considered, 
8 




■ PULL, BROTHER, PULL, AND WE LL SOON HAVE 
HIM OUT." 



THE THREE MONKEYS 

for above all one must write the truth in one's last 
testament ! " 

So he pondered and pondered, but he could not make up 
his mind as to the cause of his death. Was he going to die 
of the fall from the balloon, or of his broken legs, or what ? 
Just then he happened to look in the mirror by the bedside, 
and saw that there was a lump on his forehead, which he had 
got while fighting with James and Jemmy in the balloon. 

" Why, of course," cried he, " I am going to die of that 
big bruise on my forehead ! " So he wrote it down in his 
will, and then, happy at having solved the difficulty, turned 
over on his side and died. 

And, as I said before, this all took place in Monkey-land, 
ever so long ago. 





Birds 



HOW THE GOLDFINCH GOT 
HIS COLOURS 

HEN the Angel whose mission it was to colour 
the birds had finished his work, he began to 
scrape his palette and to make ready for depar- 
ture. He had done his task well, for the plumage 
of the feathered creatures all around him glowed 
with a thousand glorious colours. There was 
the lordly eagle, arrayed in a robe of golden brown. The 
peacock had a tail of shimmering blue and green that looked 
as if it were studded with precious stones. The crow's black 
coat shone in the sun with a kind of steely radiance, very 
wonderful to behold. The canary was as yellow as a butter- 
cup ; the jay had a spot of blue sky on either wing ; even the 
humble sparrow wore a handsome black neck-tie; while 

lO 





THE ANGEL WHOSE MISSION IT WAS TO COLOUR THE BIRDS 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Chanticleer, the cock, was resplendent in yellow, black, and 
red. All the birds were very proud of their appearance, and 
they strutted about here and there, gazing at their reflections 
in the water and calling upon their neighbours to come and 
admire their beauties. 

Alone among the birds the little goldfinch took no part 
in the rejoicing. Somehow or other the Angel had over- 
looked him, so that he remained uncoloured, a drab little 




He took a Place among the most Beautiful of them all 

creature, in his sober grey dress, among the gaily clothed 
throng. More than once he had tried to draw the Angel's 
attention to himself, and now, seeing him cleaning his 
palette in readiness to depart, he stepped forward and said : 
" Have pity on me, good Angel, and paint my plumage as 
you have painted that of the others, so that I may walk among 
them unashamed. I have nothing to commend me — no 
beautiful song like the nightingale or the throstle, no grace of 
form such as the swallows have. If I am to go unadorned, 
nothing remains for me but to hide myself among the leaves." 
Then the A'lgel took pity on the little creature, and would 
gladly have painted him with glowing colours, but alas, he 
had scraped his palette clean. Therefore he took up a brush, 
and going from bird to bird took from each a spot of colour, 
which he laid upon the goldfinch, blending a score of brilliant 
hues with marvellous skill. When he had finished, the 

12 



ALL THE BIRDS WERE VERY PROUD OF THEIR APPEARANCE 



HOW THE GOLDFINCH GOT HIS COLOURS 

tiny bird was transformed, and from being the saddest in 
that brilliant company he took a place among the most 
beautiful of them all. 

It is not possible, by means of words, to describe the beauty 
of the colouring which the Angel gave to the goldfinch, but 
you may see him any day you like, sitting on a thistle, and 
chirping his song of gratitude and praise. 





The Fox was not a little frightened 



^ 



THE COCK AND THE FOX 

HIS is the story that the old woman who was 
called Tante Sannie told to the little boy who 
would always be talking : 

A long time ago (she said) there lived in a 
farmyard a Cock who was very proud of himself, 
and with reason, too, for he was, indeed, a 
plump and handsome bird. Nothing could have been finer 
than his appearance when he strutted through the yard, lifting 
his feet high as he walked, and nodding his head at each 
step. He had a magnificent comb of coral- red, and blue-black 
plumage streaked with gold, which shone so brilHantly when 
the sun flashed on it that it was a joy to see him. No 
wonder that his twenty wives gazed at him admiringly and 
followed him wherever he went, and were quite content to 
let him hustle them about and gobble up all the fattest 
worms and the finest grains of corn. 

H 



THE COCK AND THE FOX 

If this Cock was proud of his appearance, there was one 
thing of which he was even prouder, and that was his voice. 
He was a famous songster ; he could crow you high and he 
could crow you low ; he could utter tones as deep as the 
pealing of the organ in church or as shrill as the blast of a 
trumpet. Every morning, when the first streak of dawn 
appeared in the sky, he would get down off his perch, raise 
himself on his toes, stretch out his neck, close his eyes and 
crow so loudly that he roused people who were sleeping in 
the next parish. And this he loved to do, because it was 
his nature. 

Now in the forest close to the farmyard there lived a Fox 
who had often gazed with longing. eyes upon the plump and 
handsome bird. His mouth watered every time he thought 
of him, and many were the artful tricks he played to try and 
catch him for his dinner. One day he hid himself among 
the bushes in the garden by the farmyard and waited 
patiently until the Cock happened to stray his way. After 
a time the bird came along, pecking here and pecking there, 
wandered through the gate into the garden, and made 
straight for the bush under which Master Fox was hidden. 
He was just going to run into the bush after a butterfly 
which was fluttering about, when he caught sight of Rey- 
nard's black snout and cunning, watchful eyes, and with a 
squeak of alarm he jumped aside, just in time, and hopped 
on to the wall. 

At this the Fox rose to his feet. " Don't go away, my 
dear friend," said he in honeyed tones. " I would not for 
the world do you any harm. I know that it is my bad 
fortune to be disliked by your family — I can't for the life 
of me think why, and it is a pity, because I have to hide 
myself for the pleasure of hearing you sing. There is no 
cock in all these parts has such a magnificent voice as yours, 
and I simply do not believe the stories they tell about you." 

" Eh, what is that ? " said the Cock, stopping at a safe 
distance and looking at the Fox with his head on one side. 
" What do they say ? " 

15 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" Why," Reynard went on, edging a little nearer, " they 
tell me that you can only crow with your eyes open. They 
say that if you were to shut your eyes, that clarion call of 
yours would become only a feeble piping, like the clucking 
of a new-born chick. But of course I don't believe them. 
Any one can see they are merely jealous." 

" I should think so," cried the Cock, bristling with anger. 
" Crow with my eyes shut, indeed ! Why, I never crow in 
any other way. Just look here — I'll prove it to you ! " 
And he raised himself on his toes, stretched out his neck, 
closed his eyes, and was just going to crow, when, Snap ! 
the Fox sprang upon him and caught him in his teeth ! 

Then began a great to-do ! The poor cock flapped his 
wings and struggled as the Fox ran off with him. The hens 
ran about the yard clucking and squawking, and the noise 
they made alarmed the farmer's wife, who was cooking in the 
kitchen. Out she came running, with the rolling-pin in her 
hand, and, seeing the fox with the cock in his mouth, gave 
chase, shrieking as she ran. The farm-hands tumbled out 
of bam and byre armed with pitch-forks, spades, and sticks. 
All the beasts began to raise a clatter, and what with the 
shouting of the men, the squealing of the pigs, the neighing 
of the horses, and the lowing of the cows, to say nothing of 
the clucking of the hens and the old woman's screaming, one 
would have thought the end of the world was at hand. 

The Fox was not a little frightened by all this clatter, 
but he was not so frightened as the Cock, who saw that 
only cunning would save his life. 

" They will catch us in a minute,'' he said to the Fox, 
" and, as likely as not, we shall both be killed by a single 
blow. Why don't you call out and tell them I came with 
you of my own accord ? " 

" A good idea," thought the Fox, and he opened his 
mouth to call out to his pursuers, thereby loosening his grip 
on the Cock's neck. Then, with a squirm and a twist and 
a flutter of his wings, the wily bird wrenched himself free 
and flew up to the branches of a tree near by. 
i6 




" DON'T GO AWAY, MY DEAR FRIEND," SAID THE FOX 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

The Fox cast a look at him and saw that he was out of 
reach ; then he glanced over his shoulder at his pursuers, 
who were getting perilously near. " It seems to me," he 
said, grinning with rage, " I should have done better to 
hold my tongue." 

" That is true," said the Cock to himself as he smoothed 
his ruffled feathers. " And I would have been better advised 
to keep my weather-eye open." 





The Soldier, the Fox, and the Bear 




THE MOST CUNNING 
ANIMAL 

NE day the Fox and the Bear began to argue as 
to which was the most cunning animal. The 
Bear said that he thought foxes and bears took 
first place. 

" You are wrong, my friend," said Reynard. 
" We are clever, you and I, but there is one 
animal that is as far above us as we are above the rest of 
creation." 

"Oh, indeed," sneered the Bear, " and what is the name 
of this marvellous creature ? " 

"He is called the man -animal," answered Reynard, 
" and he goes on two legs instead of four, which is a wonder- 
ful thing in itself. Here are some of the cunning things he 
can do ; first, he can swim in the water without getting wet ; 
when he is cold he makes yellow flowers grow out of sticks 

19 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

to warm himself ; and he can strike at an enemy a hundred 
yards away ! " 

" I do not believe you," answered the Bear. " This is a 
fairy-tale you are telling me. If such a creature as the man- 
animal really exists, it is very strange that I have never seen 
him ! " 

" Strange, indeed ! " grinned the Fox, " but soon 
remedied. Would you like to see the man-animal } " 

" It would be a sight for sore eyes," said the Bear. 

" Very well," said the Fox, " come along with me." And 
he led the Bear through the forest until they came to a road lead- 
ing to a village. " Now, then," said he, " let us lie down in the 
ditch and watch the road, and we shall see what we shall see." 

Presently a child from the village came along. 

" Look ! Look ! " whispered the Bear. " An animal 
walking on two legs ! Is this the creature we seek ? " 

" No," answered the Fox, " but one of these days it will 
become a man- animal." 

Shortly afterwards there came along an old woman, all 
bent and wrinkled. 

" Is that one ? " asked the Bear. 

" No," said the Fox again, " but once upon a time that 
was the mother of one ! " 

At last there came the sound of brisk footsteps on the 
road, and peeping out between the bushes the Bear saw a tall 
soldier in a red coat marching towards them. He had a 
sword by his side and a musket over his shoulder. 

" This must surely be the man-animal," said the Bear. 
" Ugh ! what an ugly creature ! I don't believe he is 
cunning in the least ! " But the Fox made no answer, for 
at the first sight of the soldier he had fled into the forest. 

" Well, well," muttered the Bear, " I don't see anything 
to be afraid of here. Let us have a talk with this wonder ! " 
And hoisting himself clumsily out of the ditch he lumbered 
along the road to meet the soldier. 

" Now then, my fine fellow," he growled, " I have heard 
some wonderful stories about you. Tell me ..." 
20 



THE MOST CUNNING ANIMAL 

But before he could get another word out of his mouth 
the soldier drew his sword and struck him such a shrewd 
blow that he cut off his ear. 

" Wow ! " cried the Bear, " what's that for ? Tell 
me ..." But then, seeing the gleaming steel flash once 
again, he turned tail and ran off as fast as he could go. Just 
as he reached the edge of the wood, he looked backward and 
saw the soldier raise his gun to his shoulder. There was a 
flash, a loud report, and the Bear felt a terrific blow against 
his side. Down he went Hke a ninepin, but fortunately for 
him;the bullet had merely glanced off his hide, and he was 
not seriously hurt. Picking himself up, he lost no time in 
gaining the shelter of the trees, and presently came limping 
painfully to the place where the Fox was waiting for him. 

" Well, my friend," said Reynard, " did you see the man- 
animal } And what did you think of him ? " 

" You were right," answered poor Bruin sadly. " He 
is certainly the most cunning creature in the world. I went 
up to speak to him and he tore a rib from his side and cut off 
my ear. Then I ran away, but before I could reach the trees 
he picked up a stick and pointed it at me. Then there came 
thunder and lightning, and a piece of the earth heaved itself 
up and knocked me spinning ! Beyond all doubt the man- 
animal takes the palm for cunning, but I never want to see 
him again, for I shall carry the marks of our first meeting to 
my dying day." 

And Reynard grinned, and said : " I told you so ! " 







SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

HERE was once a lad whose face was so badly 
pitted by the smallpox that everybody called him 
Sponsken, which means little Sponge. From the 
very day of his birth Sponsken had been a great 
cause of anxiety to his parents, and as he grew 
older he became more trouble still, for he was so 
full of whims and mischief that one never knew where one 
had him. He would not learn his lessons, nor work at any 
serious task for ten minutes on end. All he seemed to think 
of was cutting capers and playing practical jokes on people. 
At last, in despair, his parents told their trouble to the village 
sexton, who was a great friend of the family, and often came 
to smoke his pipe with Sponsken's father in the chimney 
corner. 

" Don't worry, my friends," said the sexton. " I've seen 
young men like your son before, and they are quite easy to 
manage if one only goes about it the right way. Just leave 

22 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

him to me. What he wants is a good fright, and I'll make it 
my business to see that he gets it." 

So far so good. Sponsken's parents were only too glad 
to fall in with any plan which seemed likely to reform their 
unruly son, so the sexton went off to make his arrangements. 
That night he whitened his face with flour, covered himself 
in a white sheet, and hid behind a tree on a road along which 
he knew Sponsken would have to pass. 

It was the dark of the moon, and the place the sexton 
had chosen was very lonely. For a long time he waited ; 
then, hearing Sponsken coming along whistling a merry tune, 
he sprang out suddenly from behind his tree and waved his 
arms in a terrifying manner. 

" Hallo ! " said Sponsken. " Who are you ? " 

The sexton uttered a hollow groan. 

" What's the matter ? " said the boy. " Are you ill ? 
If you can't speak, get out of my way, for I am in a hurry." 

The sexton groaned again, louder than before, and waved 
his arms wildly. 

" Come, come," cried Sponsken, " I can't stay here all 
night. Tell me what you want at once and let me pass." 
Then, as the ghostly figure made no answer, he struck it a 
blow with the stout ash-stick which he carried, and the poor 
sexton fell, stunned, to the ground. Sponsken stayed long 
enough to take a glimpse of the ghost's face and to recognize 
the features of the sexton beneath the flour ; then he went on 
his way homeward, whistling as merrily as before. 

When he reached home his parents gazed at him uneasily. 
They were very anxious about the success of their friend's 
plan, but Sponsken did not look at all Hke a lad who had 
been frightened — quite the contrary in fact, for he drew his 
chair up to the table and set to work upon his supper with 
an excellent appetite. 

" A funny thing happened to me to-night," he said 
carelessly between two bites of an onion. " As I was walking 
along the lonely road by the cemetery a white figure jumped 
out at me." 

23 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" A wh- white figure ! " stammered his father. " How 
terrifying ! And what did you do, my son ? " 

" Do ? " said Sponsken cheerfully. " Why, I fetched him 
a crack on the skull with my staff. He went down like a 
ninepin, and I warrant he won't try to frighten travellers 
again ! " 

" Base, ungrateful boy ! " cried his father, rising to his 
feet. " It was my dear friend Jan the sexton you struck. 
All I hope is that you have not killed him." 

" Well, if I have, it is his own fault," answered Sponsken. 
" He should not play tricks on me." But his father continued 
to rage and grumble so long that Sponsken got tired of hearing 
him at last, and flung off to bed in a sulk. 

" I'll stand no more of this," he said to himself. " Since 
my own people do not appreciate me, I'll go out and seek 
my own fortune in the world, and they may go on as best 
they can." 

The next morning, therefore, having packed a loaf of 
bread and a piece of cheese in a bag, Sponsken set off on his 
travels, telling nobody where he was going, and taking nothing 
else with him except a sparrow which he had tamed and 
kept since it was a fledgling. After walking for a long time 
he came to a forest, and feeling rather tired he sat down on 
the trunk of a fallen tree to rest. 

Now in this forest lived a giant who was the most hideous 
creature one could possibly imagine. From his forehead 
jutted a pair of horns ; his features were more like those of a 
beast than a man, and his finger-nails grew long and curved 
like the claws of a wild animal. The giant considered himself 
lord of the whole wood, and was very jealous lest anybody 
should enter his domain. When, therefore, he saw Sponsken 
he was very angry, and having pulled up a young tree by the 
roots to serve him as a club, he approached the young man, 
who was sitting with his eyes closed, and struck him a heavy 
blow on the shoulder. 

In spite of appearances, Sponsken was not asleep ; he 
was far too wary a person to be caught napping under such 
24 




SPONSKEN, THE GIANT, AND THE PRINCESS 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

conditions. As a matter of fact, he had seen the giant before 
the giant saw him, and he knew that his only chance of 
escape was to remain unperturbed and calm. When, there- 
fore, the giant struck him on the shoulder, he opened his 
eyes sleepily, rubbed the place, and said with a yawn : " A 
pest on these flies ! They bite so hard that a fellow can't 
sleep for them." 

" You shall sleep soundly enough in a minute ! " muttered 
the giant, who was enraged at Sponsken's nonchalance. 
" See how you like this ! " And he gave the lad a blow on 
the other shoulder, harder than before. 

" There they are again ! " cried Sponsken, rubbing the 
place. " My word ! They bite even harder on this side 
than on the other. It is time I was going ! " And he rose 
from his seat, starting back with surprise as he affected to 
see the giant for the first time. 

" So it's you, is it ? " he cried. " What do you mean by 
tickling me when I am trying to sleep ? If I were not so 
kind-hearted I'd break your neck for you ! " 

" Have a care what you say," cried the giant. " Do you 
know that I have the strength of twenty men and could 
crush you between my hands like a kitten ? " 

" Pooh 1 " said Sponsken. " Words are windy things. 
I have no doubt you could kill a whole regiment with your 
breath. But words won't go with me, my man ; you must 
give me some proof of your prowess." 

" Proof ! " roared the giant. "See here ! I can throw a 
stone so high into the air that it will not come down for a 
quarter of an hour." And he was as good as his word, 
for, picking up a large stone, he flung it with all his strength, 
and it was more than a quarter of an hour before it fell again 
at their feet. 

"Can you match that ? " asked the giant with a grin. 

" Easily," said Sponsken. " I will throw a stone so high 
that it will not come down at all ! " Bending to the ground 
he picked up a pebble and showed it to the giant, but very 
cleverly he managed at the last moment to exchange it for 
26 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

the sparrow which he carried in his pocket, and this he was 
able to do because the giant was rather short-sighted, and, 
if truth be told, slow-witted as well. 




He tossed the Bird into the Air 

" One, two, three ! " cried Sponsken, and he tossed the 
bird into the air, and of course it flew up and up and never 
came down at all. 

" Well, well," said the giant, " I never saw such a thing 
as that in my life before. You are certainly a wonderful 
stone-thrower, little man. But can you do this ? " And 

27 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 



picking up another stone, he squeezed it so hard between 
his immense fists that he crushed it into a fine powder. 

" Yes, that is hard to do," said Sponsken, " but I think I 
can go one better. Any oaf, if he be strong enough, can 
crush a stone to powder, but it requires skill as well as strength 

to wring the juice out 
of one. Watch me ! " 
So saying, Sponsken 
adroitly slipped out his 
piece of cheese, and 
squeezed it until the 
whey dripped from be- 
tween his fingers. 

" Marvellous ! " said 
the giant. " I confess 
myself beaten. Let us 
go into partnership, for 
there cannot be two 
others like us in the 
whole world." 

"Willingly," an- 
swered Sponsken, " but 
what are we to do ? " 
" Why, as for that," said the giant, " the King of this 
country has promised his daughter's hand in marriage, and 
a great treasure besides, to anybody who can destroy three 
ferocious beasts which are devastating his realm. It seems 
to me that this is a task we can quite well do together. You, 
with your quickness and skill, can trap the beasts, and I can 
kill them with my club. That done, we will divide the 
spoils." 

So it was agreed, and without wasting a moment the 
two took the wood together. Before very long they reached 
the King's palace, and sent up a message by one of the 
lords in waiting that they would like to see His Majesty. 

" And do you mean to tell me," asked the King, when 
he had heard the giant's tale, " that you can overcome the 
28 




" THE THREE ANIMALS ARE A BEAR, A UNICORN, 
AND A WILD BOAR " 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

three fierce animals by the help of this ugly little pock-marked 
fellow." 

" Hush ! Not so loud, for the love of heaven ! " whis- 
pered the giant. " My 
friend is very touchy 
about his appearance, 
and if he hears you 
making such slighting 
remarks it is very likely 
he will bring the whole 
of your palace down 
about your head ! " 

"You don't say so!" 
whispered the King in 
reply, glancing fearfully 
at the terrible little 
man. " Well, you are 
at liberty to try your 
luck. The three ani- 
mals are a bear, a uni- 
corn, and a wild boar, 
and at present they are 
hidden in the wood 
close by. There you 
will find them, but take 
care of yourselves, for 
they have already killed 
scores of my men." 

" Don't be afraid " the bear followed him into the hollow trunk 1 

answered the giant, " for us this is as easy as playing a 
game." 

After having partaken of a good meal the two made their 
way towards the wood in which the animals were hidden. 

" We must make a plan," said Sponsken. " Listen to 
what I propose. You go into the middle of the wood while 
I remain here on the outskirts ; then when you drive the 
beasts out I will see that they do not escape." 

29 




FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

So it was arranged. The giant went forward into the 
wood, while Sponsken remained outside, waiting to see what 
would happen. He had not to wait long, for presently there 
was a crashing and a tearing of undergrowth and a great 
bear came lumbering towards him. Sponsken did not like 
the look of the creature at all, and decided to put as much 
space between them as possible. Looking here and there 
for a refuge, he spied a big oak-tree, and quickly climbed its 
trunk and ensconced himself among the branches. Unfor- 
tunately the bear had already seen him, and, raising himself 
on his hind legs with a dreadful roar, he rushed to the tree 
and began to climb. In another moment Sponsken would 
have been lost, but by good chance the tree happened to 
be hollow, so without hesitation the lad let himself down 
into the trunk, and finding at the bottom a small hole which 
led to the open air, he was just able to wriggle through it 
and escape. The bear followed him into the hollow trunk, 
but the hole at the bottom was too small for him to get out 
by, and as there was hardly room to move inside the trunk, 
the angry creature had to stay where he was, waking all the 
echoes in the forest with his growling. 

The next minute the giant came running out of the forest. 
" Have you seen the bear ? " he cried. " I drove him 
towards you 1 " 

" Don't worry," answered Sponsken coolly ; " I've shut 
him up in the tree there to keep him safe." 

The giant rushed to the tree and dispatched the bear with 
one blow of his great club. Then, pulling out the carcass, he 
shouldered it, and the two went back to the palace, congratu- 
lating each other on the excellent beginning of their enterprise. 

There remained now the unicorn and the wild boar. 
Next day Sponsken and the giant went to the forest again, 
and since their first plan had been so successful, it was 
arranged that they should follow exactly the same course. 
The giant went into the depths of the wood to find the 
unicorn and drive him out, while Sponsken remained on the 
borders to capture the animal when he came. 
30 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

This time the period of waiting was longer, and Sponsken, 
leaning against the oak-tree, had almost fallen asleep when 
a clattering of hoofs awakened him, and he sprang aside just 



With a mighty Crash he ran full tilt into the Tree 

in time to escape the unicorn, who, breathing fire from his 
nostrils, charged down upon him. So great was the impetus 
of the beast's charge that he could not stop himself, and 
with a mighty crash he ran full tilt into the tree, driving his 
horn so far into the trunk that, although he pulled and 
struggled, he could not wrench himself free. 

31 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

When the giant came up, Sponsken showed him the 
animal, which was quickly killed with a single blow of the 
club. 

" Didn't I manage that affair well ? " asked Sponsken 
as they went back to the palace. 

" You are a wonder ! " answered the giant, and he really 
believed what he said. 

Now only the wild boar remained, and on the following 
day the two went to the forest to capture him also. Once 
again the same plan was followed, but this time Sponsken 
kept his eyes wide open, and when the ferocious beast broke 
cover he ran as fast as he could in the direction of the royal 
chapel. The wild boar followed him, and a fearsome creature 
he looked, I assure you, with his wicked little eyes and his 
great curved tusks and the hair on his back bristling like the 
quills of a porcupine. 

Through the open door of the chapel Sponsken ran, and 
the boar, snorting with fury, followed him. Then began a 
fine chase, round and round the aisles, over the pews, and 
in and out of the vestries. At last Sponsken seized a chair, 
and dashing it against a window broke several panes, and 
so made good his escape. While the boar was still standing 
stupidly staring at the hole through which he had gone out, 
Sponsken ran round to the door, which he closed and locked. 
Then, having broken one or two more panes of glass, he 
sat down quietly by the chapel wall and began to pare his 
nails. 

A short time afterwards the giant came rushing up. 

*' Where is the boar ? Have you let him get away ? " 
he cried. 

" Don't get so excited," answered Sponsken. " The boar 
is safe enough. He's in the chapel there. I had no other 
place to put him, so I flung him through the window ! " 

" What a wonderful little man you are ! " said the giant 
gleefully, and he ran off to kill the boar with one blow of his 
club. This done, he hoisted the carcass on to his shoulders 
and took the road to the palace. Half-way there the weight 
32 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

of the boar began to tell, for it was a massive beast, and the 
giant was forced to stay and rest. 

"It is all very well," said he, mopping his streaming 
brow, " but I think you ought to take a turn with me in 
carrying this carcass." 

" Not I," answered Sponsken. " We made an agreement 
that my work was done when I captured the beast, and I 
intend to keep to it." 




Sponsken 



The Princess 



The Giant 



So the giant had to struggle on as best he could for the 
rest of the way, grumbling at every step, while Sponsken 
followed, laughing up his sleeve, and exceedingly thankful 
that he had escaped the task. 

When they reached the palace the two presented them- 
selves before the King and claimed the promised reward. 
But now a difficulty arose. It was quite easy to divide the 
treasure, but which of them was to have the Princess ? 

" I think it should be I," said the giant, " for I killed the 
three animals." 

" Not at all," said Sponsken. " The Princess should be 
given to me, for I captured the beasts." 

" A lot of good your capturing them would have been if 
I had not killed them ! " said the giant. 

" How could you have killed them if I had not caught 
them first ? " answered Sponsken. And so the two began 
to quarrel, and neither would give way, and high words 
passed between them. Truth to tell, the King was not at 
all sorry that the dispute had arisen, for he did not very 

c 33 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

much relish the idea of his daughter marrying either the 
bestial giant or the pock-marked, ugly little fellow who was 
his companion. 

" There is only one way out of the difficulty," said the 
King at last. " We must let fate decide. Listen to the plan 
I propose. You shall both of you sleep in the Princess's 
chamber to-night — the giant in a bed on one side of her 
couch, and Sponsken on the other. I also will remain in 
her chamber and watch her carefully. If she spends most 
of the night with her face turned towards Sponsken, it shall 
be a sign that she is to marry him ; if, on the other hand, 
she favours the giant, he shall be her husband ; but if she 
sleeps all night with her face towards neither of you, then 
you must both give her up, and be satisfied with the treasure." 

So it was agreed, and that night the trial took place. 
Sponsken, however, did not by any means intend that blind 
chance should settle so important a matter, and he spent 
the intervening time in making certain preparations. First 
of all he went to the palace gardens, from which he gathered 
certain herbs having an aromatic and beautiful perfume ; these 
he placed in a bag and hid under his clothes. Then from 
the woods he gathered all the herbs he could find which 
had a disagreeable smell, such as garlic and stinkwort and 
poisonous fungus ; these also he placed in a bag, and seized 
an early opportunity, when they came to the Princess's 
chamber, of hiding the bag under the pillow on which the 
giant's head was to rest. 

The Princess well knew the fateful issue which was to 
be decided in the night, and as she had firmly made up her 
mind not to marry either the one or the other of her suitors, 
she determined to remain awake all night and to take care to 
keep her face turned towards the ceiling. For a time she 
managed to do so, but before long drowsiness overcame her, 
and she slept. Presently she turned over on her left side 
and lay with her face turned towards the giant, who began 
to chuckle to himself. 

" Wait a minute," thought Sponsken. " I don't think the 
3+ 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

Princess will keep that position long ! " And sure enough, 
the horrible stench of the herbs in the bag beneath the giant's 
pillow penetrated even to her dreams, and the Princess turned 
over hurriedly on the other side. What a change was there ! 
Instead of a disgusting smell which made her dream of gloomy 
caverns and noisome things, she found now a delicious 
perfume that brought pictures of sunlit gardens all glowing 
with flowers and bright-winged butterflies flitting over them. 
The Princess gave a little sigh of content, and for the rest of 
the night she remained with her face turned towards Sponsken, 
so that the King had no choice but to declare the little man 
the winner. 

The Princess, however, refused to abide by the judgment. 
" I will not marry that vulgar fellow," she cried. " I will 
die first ! Oh, father, if you love me, think of a means 
of escape ! " 

" Do not be afraid, my child," answered the King. " I 
will arrange something." And the next day he took the 
giant aside and proposed to him that he should rid him of 
Sponsken, promising a rich reward for the service. The 
giant's greed was aroused, and being very jealous of his 
companion's success, he was the more ready to fall in with 
the King's suggestion. 

Fortunately for himself, Sponsken's quick wits made him 
suspicious. He guessed that some treachery was afoot, and 
in order to be prepared for emergencies he took a heavy 
hammer with him when he retired to bed at night. His 
suspicions were justified, for towards midnight the door of 
his room opened and the giant entered on tiptoe, carrying a 
heavy axe with which he intended to dispatch our friend. 
No sooner was his foot inside the door, however, than 
Sponsken jumped out of bed and sprang at him, looking so 
fierce that the giant, who was a coward at heart, and had 
besides a healthy respect for his companion's powers, turned 
and fled in dismay. Then Sponsken lifted his heavy hammer 
and struck three resounding blows upon the floor. The 
noise awoke everybody in the palace, and servants, guards, 

35 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

and lords in waiting came flocking to the room to discover 
the cause. The King came last of all, a little anxious about 
the success of his fine plot, and when he found Sponsken 
sitting up in bed, quite unharmed, his face fell. 

" What is the matter ? " he stammered. 

" Matter ? " answered Sponsken. " Nothing very much ! 
Some person wandered into my room, so I just gave three 
taps with my fingers on the wall. It is lucky for you all 
that I did not strike the blows with my fist, for had I done 
so I am afraid there would have been nothing left of your 
palace but a heap of dust ! " 

At these words everybody turned pale, and the King 
made haste to protest his undying friendship for his terrible 
guest. 

As for the giant, he was in such fear of encountering 
Sponsken's resentment that he fled, and nobody ever saw 
him again. 

Now the poor King did not know what to do, for his 
daughter still persisted in her refusal to marry Sponsken, 
and he was torn two ways by love and fear. Just at that 
time, however, a neighbouring monarch, who was an old 
enemy of the King's, declared war upon him, and this offered 
another opportunity for delay. Calling Sponsken before him, 
the King proposed that he should prove his valour by chal- 
lenging the enemy king to mortal combat. Sponsken agreed ; 
but his fame had already been noised abroad, and the challenge 
was refused. 

" Very well," said the King, who was at the end of his 
resources. " As my prospective son-in-law you ought to 
lead my armies into battle. I will place my own charger at 
your disposal, and I look to you to save my country from 
defeat." 

Here was a pretty kettle of fish ! Sponsken had never 
ridden a horse in his life, and he had not the slightest know- 
ledge of warfare. To make matters worse, the steed in 
question was a notoriously vicious brute who would allow 
nobody but his own master to mount him. Already he had 
36 




ALL THE ATTENDANTS FLED AT ONCE 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

accounted for several grooms and stablemen, whom he had 
kicked to death. 

Sponsken commanded that the steed should be led to the 
borders of the forest and tied by the bridle to a tree. He 
had not the slightest intention of trying to mount the brute, 
and his plan was to wait until the attendants had gone away 
and then to slip off unobserved. Fate, however, was too 
much for him, for hardly was the horse safely tied up than 
couriers came spurring along the road to say that the enemy 
king was advancing at the head of his army, and was at that 
very moment less than half a mile away. 

All the attendants fled at once, and Sponsken himself was 
so overcome by terror that, without thinking what he was 
doing, he jumped upon the back of the steed, and, forgetting 
that it was tied to the tree, dug his sharp spurs into its side. 
The horse plunged and reared, champing at the bit and 
doing its best to dislodge Sponsken from the saddle, but the 
lad clung on for dear life. At last, finding all its efforts 
unavailing, the horse dragged the tree up by the roots and 
charged forward in a straight line towards the advancing 
enemy. Almost dislodged from his seat by the sudden jerk, 
Sponsken stretched out his hand and grasped the branches 
of the tree, which swung in a terrifying manner at his side, 
promising every moment to hurl him from the saddle, and 
the result was that to the enemy army it appeared as though 
he were charging down upon them at full speed, bearing a 
tree as a club. Filled with dismay at the terrifying sight, 
the soldiers of the enemy king fled in all directions and hid 
themselves in the woods and in the crevices of the rocks. 
Sponsken rode on for the simple reason that he could do 
nothing else, right into the enemy's camp, where the steed 
came to a standstill and our hero was able to jump down 
from its back. Entering the king's tent, he helped himself 
to all the documents and articles of value he could find ; 
then, having cut the tree from the bridle, he remounted the 
horse, which was now quite tame and docile, and rode back 
to the palace. 
38 



SPONSKEN AND THE GIANT 

When the King heard that the enemy was routed he was 
overjoyed, and he recognized that a man who could perform 
such a feat single-handed was not to be treated lightly. His 
daughter, however, was still firm in her refusal to marry 
Sponsken, and so the King made him an offer of half his 
kingdom if he would release him from his promise and allow 
the Princess to go free. Sponsken accepted his terms and 
married a girl who, although she was not a princess, was 
nevertheless very pretty. Their wedding was celebrated with 
great pomp and they lived together very happily for the rest 
of their lives. 




./^ 




The Cat and the Sparrow 




WHY CATS ALWAYS WASH 
AFTER EATING 

LONG time ago a cat caught a sparrow, and 
licked his lips in anticipation of the delight he 
would feel in devouring it. After playing with 
it for a time, as cats will, he was going to eat it, 
when the sparrow spoke to him. 

" The Emperor's cat," said the sparrow, "and 
all his family, never begin a meal without washing themselves 
first . Everybody knows that such is the custom in polite society . ' ' 
" Really," answered the cat, " well, I will do as the 
Emperor's cat does ! " And he let go the sparrow and began 
to wash his face. Feeling itself free, the sparrow flew away, 
and alighted safely on the branch of a tree well out of reach. 
" It serves me right," muttered the cat, " for being so 
easily taken in." 

And ever since that time cats have always washed them- 
selves after their meals, 
40 




I've just been turned out of house 




THE CHORISTERS OF ST. 
GUDULE 

HE miller of Sandhills had a donkey which had 
served him well in its time, but was now too 
old to work. The miller was a careful man, 
who did not believe in feeding useless mouths, 
so he decided that he would sell the donkey 
for the price of its skin. " I do not suppose 
I shall get very much for the wretched beast," he said, 
regarding poor Greyskin as he stood with hanging head in 
his stall, " but I shall save the cost of his corn anyhow, 
and that is always something." 

Left alone, Greyskin reflected sadly upon the fate in 
store for him. " Such is the way of the world," he thought. 
" When I was young and hearty nothing was too good for me ; 
now I'm old and useless I am to be cast out. But am I so 
useless after all ? True, I can no longer pull a cart to market, 
but I have a magnificent voice still. There must be a place 

41 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

somewhere for one who can sing as beautifully as L I'll 
go to the Cathedral of St. Gudule, in Brussels, and offer 
myself as a chorister." 

Greyskin lost no time in acting upon his resolve, but left 
his stable immediately and set out on the road to Brussels. 
Passing the Burgomaster's house he saw an old hound 
sitting disconsolately on the doorstep. 

" Hallo, friend ! " said he. " What is the matter with you ? 
You seem very sad this morning." 

" The matter is that I am tired of life," answered the dog. 
"I'm getting old and stiff and I can no longer hunt hares 
for my master as I used to do. The result is that I am 
reckoned good for nothing and they grudge me every morsel 
of food I put into my mouth." 

" Come, come, cheer up, my friend," said Greyskin. 
" Never say die ! I am in a similar case to yourself and have 
just left my master for precisely the same reason. My plan 
is to go to the Cathedral of St. Gudule and offer my services 
to the master of the choir. If I may say so without conceit, 
I have a lovely voice — one must make the most of one's gifts, 
you know — and I ought to be able to command good pay." 

" Well, if it comes to that," said the dog, " I can sing too. 
I sang a lovely song to the moon last night, and if you'll 
believe me, all the people in our street opened their windows 
to listen. I sang for quite an hour, and I'd have gone on 
longer if some malicious person, who was no doubt jealous, 
had not thrown an old boot at my head." 

" Excellent," said Greyskin. " Come along with me. You 
shall sing tenor and I'll sing bass. We'll make a famous pair." 

So the dog joined company with Greyskin, and they 
went on together towards Brussels. A little farther down 
the road they saw a cat sitting on the rubbish-heap outside 
a miserable hovel. The creature was half bUnd with age, 
and had a face as long as a fiddle. 

" Why, what is the matter with you ? " asked Greyskin, 
who had a tender heart. 

" Matter enough," said the cat. " I've just been turned 
42 



THE CHORISTERS OF ST. GUDULE 

out of house and home, and all because I took a little piece 
of bacon from the larder. Upon my honour, it was no bigger 
than a baby's fist, but they made as much fuss as though it 




" They laugh at me " 

had been a whole gammon. I was beaten, and kicked out 
to starve. If I could catch mice as I used to do, it would not 
matter so much, but the mice are too quick for me nowadays. 
They laugh at me. Nothing remains for me but to die, and 
I hope it may be soon." 

43 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" Nonsense," said Greyskin. " You shall live to laugh 
at all your troubles. Come along with us and sing in the 
choir at St. Gudule, Your voice is a little too thin for my 
own taste, but you'll make a very good soprano in a trio. 
What do you say ? " 

" You give me new hopes," answered the cat. " Of course 
I'll join you," and so the three went on together. 

Towards nightfall they arrived at a farmyard, on the gate 
of which a cock was crowing lustily. 

'• Hallo ! " said Greyskin. " What's all this about ? " 

" I am singing my last song on earth," said the cock. 
" An hour ago I sang a song, although it is not my usual 
custom to crow in the afternoon, and as I ended I heard the 
farmer's wife say : ' Hearken to Chanticleer. He's crowing 
for fine weather to-morrow. I wonder if he'd crow so loudly 
if he knew that we had guests coming, and that he was going 
into the pot to make their soup ! ' She has a horrid laugh, 
that woman. I have always hated her ! " 

" And do you mean to tell me," said Greyskin, " that you 
are going to stay here quite contentedly till they come to 
wring your neck ? " 

*' What else can I do ? " asked Chanticleer. 

" Join us, and turn your talents to account. We are all 
beautiful singers and we are going to Brussels to offer our- 
selves as choristers at St. Gudule. We were a trio before. 
With you we shall be a quartet, and that's one better ! " 

Chanticleer was only too glad to find a means of escape, 
so he willingly joined the party, and they once more took 
the road. A little while afterwards they came to a thick 
wood, which was the haunt of a notorious band of robbers. 
There they decided to rest for the night, so Greyskin and the 
dog lay down beneath the shelter of a large beech-tree, while 
the cat climbed on to one of the branches, and Chanticleer 
perched himself at the very top. From this lofty post 
he could see over the whole wood, and it was not long 
before he espied a light twinkling among the trees not far 
away. 

44 



' WHAT ELSE CAN I DO ? " ASKED CHANTICLEER 




ar 




..J 



"HUSH!" SAID CHANTICLEER 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" There must be a house of some sort over there," he said 
to his companions. " Shall we go and see ? We may find 
something to eat." 

" Or some straw to lie upon, at any rate," said Greyskin, 
" This damp ground gives me rheumatics in my old bones." 

" I was just thinking the same thing," said the dog. 
" Let us go." 

So the four choristers, led by the cock, walked in the 
direction from which the light came, and before long they 
found themselves in front of a little house, the windows of 
which were brilliantly lighted. In order to reach to the 
windows the animals made a tower of their bodies, with 
Greyskin at the bottom and Chanticleer at the top. 

Now this house was the abode of a band of robbers, who, 
at that very moment, were seated before a table laden with 
all kinds of food. There they sat and feasted, and poor 
Chanticleer's mouth watered as he watched them. 

" Is there anybody inside ? " asked the dog, who was 
impatient. 

" Hush ! " said Chanticleer. " Men ! They're eating their 
dinner ! " 

" I wish I was," said the dog. " What are they eating ? " 

" All sorts of things — sausage, and fish ..." 

" Sausage ! " said the dog. 

" Fish ! " said the cat. 

" And ever so many other delicacies," Chanticleer went on. 
" Look here, friends. Wouldn't it be a fine thing if we could 
get a share of their meal ? I confess that my stomach aches 
with hunger." 

" And mine too," said the dog. " I've never been so 
hungry in my life. But how are we to get the food ? " 

" Let us serenade them, and perhaps they'll throw us 
something as a reward," said Greyskin. " Music, you know, 
has charms to soothe the savage breast." 

This seemed such a good idea that the choristers lost no 
time in putting it into execution. All four began to sing. 
The donkey hee-hawed, the dog howled, the cat miaued, and 
46 



THE CHORISTERS OF ST. GUDULE 

the cock crowed. From the noise they made one would have 
thought that the heavens were faUing. 

The effect of this marvellous quartet upon the robbers 
was instantaneous. Leaping from their seats, they ran from 
place to place in mortal terror, tumbling over one another, 
oversetting chairs and adding to the racket by their shrieks 
and cries. At that moment the cock fell against the window, 
breaking the glass to smithereens ; the donkey gave the 




Breaking the Glass to Smithereens 

frame a push, and all the four precipitated themselves into 
the room. This was the last straw ; the robbers could stand 
no more ; half mad with fear they rushed to the door and 
fled into the forest. 

Then our four choristers drew up to the table and set to 
work upon the food with which it was laden. Their long 
walk had given them a good appetite, so that there was little 
left by the time they had finished. Feeling drowsy after their 
meal, they then settled themselves to sleep. The donkey 
made himself a bed on a heap of straw in the yard ; the dog 
stretched himself out upon the mat by the house door ; the 
cat lay among the warm cinders on the hearth ; and the cock 

47 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

perched upon the roof-top. A few minutes more and they 
were all fast asleep. 

Meanwhile the robbers, who had retreated some distance 
into the forest, waited anxiously for something dreadful to 
happen. An hour passed by and there was neither sight nor 
sound to alarm them, so they began to feel a little ashamed 
of their cowardice. Creeping stealthily nearer to the cottage, 
they saw that everything was still, and that no light was 
showing from the windows. 

At last the robber chief sent his lieutenant to spy out the 
land, and this man, returning to the cottage without mishap, 
found his way into the kitchen and proceeded to light a 
candle. He had no matches, but he saw two sparks of fire 
among the cinders on the hearth, so he went forward to get 
a light from them. 

Now this light came from the cat's eyes, and as soon as 
puss felt the robber touch her, she sprang up, snarling and 
spitting, and scratched his face. With a scream of terror, 
he dropped his candle and rushed for the door, and as he 
passed the dog bit him in the leg. By this time the noise 
had awakened Greyskin, who got upon his feet just as the 
man ran by, and helped him forward with a mighty kick, 
which sent him flying out into the roadway. Seeing this, 
the cock on the housetop spread his wings and crowed in 
triumph, " Cock-a-doodle-doo ! " 

I wish you could have seen the way that robber ran ! 
He covered the ground so quickly that he seemed like a 
flying shadow, and I am perfectly certain that not even a hare 
could have overtaken him. At last, panting for breath, he 
rejoined his comrades in the forest, who were eagerly awaiting 
his return. 

" Well," cried the chief, " is the way clear ? Can we go 
back ? " 

" Not on any account," cried the robber. " There's a 
horrible witch in the kitchen. Directly I entered she sprang 
at me and tore my face with her long claws, calling out at the 
same time to her creatures to come and devour me. As I ran 
48 



THE CHORISTERS OF ST. GUDULE 

through the door one of them buried his fangs in my leg, 
and a little farther on, in the yard, a great black monster 
struck at me with an enormous club, giving me a blow that 
nearly broke my back -bone. On the roof a little demon with 
wings and eyes that shone like coals of fire cried, ' Stop him ! 
Eat him ! Stop him ! Eat him ! ' You may guess that 
I did not wait for more. It is a miracle that I have escaped 
with my life ! " 

When they heard this terrible story the robbers lost no 
time in decamping, and such was their terror that they 
deserted the forest altogether and went away to another part 
of the country. The result was that our four friends were 
left to dwell in the cottage, where they lived happily for the 
rest of their hves, and as they had now everything they 
wanted, they quite gave up their idea of going to St. Gudule. 





The King 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD 
THE FOX 

I. HOW CHANTICLEER THE COCK MADE 
COMPLAINT AGAINST REYNARD 

HERE was rejoicing among the animals, for it 
was said that Reynard the Fox— sly, spiteful 
Reynard — had at last repented him of his mis- 
deeds and resolved to lead a new life. Such 
a thing was, indeed, very hard to believe, but 
nevertheless everybody said that it was true. 
Certainly he was seen no more in his usual haunts, or about 
the Court of King Lion. The news went round that he had 
put on the robe of piety and had become a hermit, en- 
deavouring to atone, by fasting and prayer, for all the sins 
of which he had been guilty. 

At the Court of King Nobel, Reynard's change of heart 
was the one topic of conversation. A few of the animals 
SO 




THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

frankly expressed their doubts of the sincerity of such a 
tardy repentance, but the majority were quite willing to 
accept it, for, as a rule, one believes what one wishes to 
believe. 

While the subject was still being eagerly discussed by the 
animals around the Lion's throne, the sound of wailing was 
heard, and a strange procession was seen making its way 
towards the King's throne. At the head of the procession 
marched Chanticleer the Cock, dressed in the deepest 
mourning and sobbing miserably, with bowed head. Behind 
him, borne by two hens, was a bier on which was stretched 
the headless body of a beautiful fowl, one of his daughters, 
and all the other hens of his family followed the bier, raising 
their voices to heaven in grievous lamentation. At this sad 
sight the whole Court stood in amaze, and many of the 
animals wept in sympathy with the bereaved father, who 
advanced towards the King's throne, crying for justice. 

" Whom do you accuse ? " asked the Lion. 

'* Whom should I accuse but that accursed Reynard, 
the source of untold misery to me and mine } You know, 
O King, none better, how we have suffered from his cruelty 
in the past. The tale I now have to tell is a tale of wrong 
that would bring tears to the eyes of a stone image — a tale 
of treachery such as would abash the Evil One himself, a 
tale so base that I can hardly bring myself to utter it ! " 

" Say on," said the King, " and rest content, for if what 
you say be true, the Fox shall receive his due reward — I 
swear it by my crown ! " 

" Lord," continued Chanticleer, " I had six sons and 
fourteen daughters. We all dwelt together in the farmyard, 
a peaceable and happy family. The rigours of the winter 
were spent ; spring had come again with its flowers and 
perfumes. The sun shone brightly, and insects abounded 
in the farmyard. We dwelt in the midst of abundance ; 
we were happy, and as we thought, safe, for the farmer's 
six faithful dogs guarded us from danger. Alas, for our 
beautiful hopes ! A few days ago Reynard appeared — cruel, 

51 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

black-hearted Reynard— and at one fell blow changed our 
happiness into misery. 

" This is how it all happened, Sire. Reynard came to the 
farmyard one fine morning and brought me a letter bearing 
your Majesty's own seal. I opened it, and read that your 
Majesty had commanded that all the animals should hence- 
forward live together in peace. A noble ordinance. Sire, 
such as would make the world a beautiful place — were it not 
for villains. I gave the document back to Reynard, ex- 
pressing my joy at the news it contained, whereupon he said : 
* My heart is full. Cock, when I think of the cruelty with 
which I have treated you and your family in the past, but 
you need have no further fear, I have seen the error of my 
ways. Henceforth my Ufe shall be given up to repentance 
and prayer. I have renounced all worldly pleasures. Even 
now I am on my way to a remote hermitage where, in fasting 
and solitude, I shall endeavour to atone for my sins.' 

" Then the hypocritical wretch stretched his paw over 
my head and gave me his blessing and departed, reading 
his Book of Hours. 

" Thinking no evil, and full of joy at the news, I called 
my children around me and cried : ' Rejoice, my dear ones. 
No more will you live in daily terror of your lives. Our 
noble King has given us his protection and has commanded 
the Fox to leave us alone. Reynard himself has just brought 
me the news, so 1 know it is true, and he himself has gone 
away to become a holy hermit ! ' 

" My children danced with glee when they heard my 
words, and I danced with them, O King ! We danced in the 
farmyard and in the garden, and in the kitchen garden, for 
it was as though a black cloud had vanished from over us. 

" This was the very moment Reynard had been waiting 
for. He had not gone far away — no farther in fact than the 
shelter of the wall by the kitchen garden, and as soon as we 
reached there, he rushed out, fell upon the finest of my 
daughters and slew her before my eyes. It all happened in 
a flash ! We ran hither and thither, trying to escape, but 
52 




'''='^gOf«-^ . 



AT THE HEAD OF THE PROCESSION MARCHED CHANTICLEER 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

all in vain. Before we had gone a dozen steps the Fox was 
among us again, and killed fifteen of my children. Last 
night he returned, and slew her whose body now Hes upon 
the bier. I have brought her here to show you, O King, 
that the sight of her corpse may strike pity into your heart, 
for I claim justice upon her murderer ! " 

So saying, the Cock bowed his head again and wept 
bitterly into his handkerchief, and pitiful sobs echoed from 
among the beasts around. Even the King could hardly 
restrain his emotion. 

" A terrible tale, indeed," said he. " Our hearts are 
heavy for you. Cock, and it will go hard with this Reynard 
when he falls into our hands ! " Then, addressing his 
courtiers, he asked for volunteers to go to the Fox's retreat 
and bring the murderer to justice. For a time there was no 
response, for few of the animals relished the task, but at 
last the Bear, who had an old grudge against Reynard, 
offered to go. " Leave this to me," said he. "If the Fox 
won't come quietly, FU drag him here by his tail. He shall 
not escape ! " 

So the Bear set off to find Reynard, who had retreated to 
one of his chateaux — a veritable fortress — situated many miles 
away in the mountains at the very end of the kingdom. 
To reach it the Bear had to travel over lonely paths, and 
through dark woods, where he lost his way a hundred times, 
but at length he arrived at Reynard's house, only to find the 
massive door locked, and the walls so high that he could not 
climb them. 



n. HOW BRUIN THE BEAR WAS SENT 
TO BRING REYNARD TO COURT 

" Open, in the name of the King ! " cried Bruin, ham- 
mering at the door. " Come out, Reynard ! I have been 
sent to bring you up for trial. You have come to the end of 
your rope at last ! Open the door, I say, or I'll batter it 
down ! " 
54 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

From his safe retreat in the very heart of the fortress 
Reynard heard Bruin's clamour. He stretched himself 
lazily and yawned. " Now who is this pestilent fellow 
making such a din ? " said he to his wife. " Well, I suppose 
I'd better go and see." So he made his way through the 
labyrinth of passages which led from his burrow to the open 




The Fox's Chateau 

air, and peeped through the crack of the door. There was 
Bruin, hammering away at the massive oak, and roaring : 
" Come out, Reynard. Come out and be hanged ! " 

" What ! is that you. Uncle Bruin } " said Reynard, 
opening the wicket. " You are in a noisy mood this morning. 
What is the matter ? " 

" The matter is that the King has sent me to bring you 
to Court," growled the Bear. " And you had best come 
quietly, for I represent the law." 

" By all means," answered Reynard, opening the door. 
" My word, but I'm glad to see you, uncle ! And an 
ambassador, too — such an honour ! How are you, and what 
sort of a journey have you had ? Very trying, I'm afraid. 

55 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Really it was a shame to impose upon your good nature and 
send you all this way ! " 

So saying the Fox led the way into his castle, keeping up 
a continual patter of talk, so that Bruin could not get a word 
in edgeways. 

"I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting at the gate," 
Reynard went on. " The fact is, I was dozing and did not 
hear you at first. I rarely sleep in the afternoon, but to-day 
I had such a heavy dinner that I felt extremely drowsy ! " 

" What did you have ? " asked the Bear with interest. 

" Oh, a simple meal enough. I am not rich, you know, 
and I have to eat what I can find. To-day it was a big 
comb of honey — not very much to my taste, but I was hungry 
and I ate it ! " 

Bruin pricked up his ears. " Eh ? *' said he. " Did you 
say honey ? " 

" Strange food for a fox, isn't it ? " said Reynard. " I 
wish I hadn't touched the stuff now, for, to tell you 
the truth, it's lying on my chest like a load of lead. I swear 
never to eat it again, although I know a place, not far from 
here, where there are immense quantities of it ! " 

By this time Bruin was all agog with excitement. 

" Nephew," said he, laying his paw on Reynard's shoulder, 
" show me the place where that honey is. My mouth is 
watering at the very thought of it. I love honey better than 
anything else in the world, and I'd give all I possess for a 
taste of it ! " 

" You are joking, no doubt," said Reynard laughingly. 
" How can any one Uke such stuff ? " 

" Joking, am I ? " growled Bruin. " Just lead me to the 
honey and I'll show you whether I'm joking. I tell you 
I'd give my eyes and ears for a taste ! " 

" Well, if that's the case," said Reynard, " you shall be 
satisfied. There's a carpenter not far from here who keeps 
bees, and from time immemorial his family have been noted 
for the excellence of their honey. I'll take you there, and 
I'm very glad to be able to render you this little service. 
56 




THE POOR BEAST ROARED WITH PAIN 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

In return, all I ask of you is that you will speak up for me 
when I come before the King." 

" Of course I will," answered Bruin. " Let us go at 
once. I can hardly contain myself for impatience." 

Reynard called upon Bruin to follow him and led the way to 
the carpenter's yard. The afternoon was very hot, and the car- 
penter was taking a nap after dinner. His yard was empty and 
in the middle of it was the trunk of a great oak-tree which 
he had laid out ready to be cut up into planks. The trunk was 
split down the middle, and kept open by two wedges of wood. 

" Here you are ! " said Reynard, going up to the tree- 
trunk. " This is the place where the carpenter keeps his 
honey. Put your muzzle in and root it out from the bottom. 
Don't eat too much ! " 

" Never fear," answered Bruin. " I'll be moderate." 
And he plunged his head and his two front paws into the 
crack. The next moment Reynard knocked out the wedges 
which kept the two halves of the trunk apart. They sprang 
together with the force of a steel spring, catching Bruin 
firmly by the nose and paws. 

The poor beast roared with pain, making a din that 
echoed back like thunder from the mountains. The car- 
penter woke up from his slumber, and seizing an axe, 
ran out into the yard. His wife came tumbling out of 
the scullery with a broom in her hand, and people from 
the neighbouring village came running to see what all 
the noise was about. When they saw that the Bear was a 
prisoner they fell upon him and began to belabour him with 
mighty blows, while the unhappy creature gave himself up 
for lost. Maddened with pain, he redoubled his efforts to 
tear himself free, and at last succeeded in getting away, 
although he left most of the skin of his nose and paws behind. 
With the blood flowing from his muzzle, and his eyes shining 
red with rage, he made such a terrible picture that the people 
fled hither and thither, leaving him a free passage, and he 
hmped off into the shelter of the woods, moaning and 
breathing out threats against his betrayer. 
58 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

From a safe distance Reynard watched him go, with a 
malicious grin. " Farewell, Uncle Bear," said he. " I hope 
you found the honey good ! " 



HI. TYBERT'S MISSION AND HOW HE FARED 

King Lion was furious when he saw the miserable state 
in which his ambassador returned. He immediately called a 




He immediately called a Council of his Ministers 

council of his ministers, to whom Bruin related all that had 
happened. 

" This recreant must be punished," said the King when 
the tale was ended. " It is a disgrace to our kingdom that 
he remains at large. Somebody else must go to bring him 
here. Who shall it be ? " 

After a good deal of disciission it was decided that Tybert 
the Cat should undertake the task, for he was reputed to be 

59 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

as cunning and artful as Reynard himself. " Do not be 
deceived by his wiles," said the King. " No doubt he will 
try to flatter you, or to play upon your weaknesses, but pay 
no attention to his words. You must take this mission very 
seriously and not allow yourself to be led aside by anything. 
On your head be it ! " 

The Cat promised to be very circumspect, and set off at 
once. He travelled quickly, and soon arrived at the door of 
Reynard's castle, where he found the Fox playing with his 
cubs on the grass, tumbling them over and over, and having 
fine fun. It was a touching spectacle of domestic bliss. 
Re3miard jumped to his feet when he saw Tybert. 

" Why, cousin," said he, " this is a pleasant surprise ! 
What makes you desert the gaieties of the Court for my 
poor home ? " 

" I come in the King's name," answered the Cat sternly. 
" He has sent me to bring you to Court, where you are to 
answer for your revolting crimes. The Bear returned 
yesterday, and the tale he told has stiffened the King's anger 
against you. I am to say that if you refuse to accompany 
me, your house shall be destroyed and your family wiped off 
the face of the earth ! " 

" Refuse," said Reynard, " whoever thought of refusing ? 
I am sure the King has no more obedient subject than L 
As for that Bruin, he is a bad subject, and I expect he has 
been telling a pack of lies about me. Do I look as if I could 
do anybody any harm ? As a matter of fact I spend all my 
time here in meditation and prayer. But come in, come in ! 
You must have a meal, for you have had a long journey. 
To-morrow we will set out together." 

" It seems to me," said the Cat, " that it would be better 
if we started at once." 

" Nonsense, my dear fellow," said Reynard. " It is bad 
to make a journey on an empty stomach. What difference 
will an hour or two make } We shall travel all the faster 
if we start in good condition." 

" Well, there's something in that," said Tybert, who, to 
60 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 



tell the truth, was not sorry of an excuse to break a fast of 
many hours. " What have you got for dinner ? " 

** What would you like ? " asked Reynard. " Shall we 
say a comb of honey } " 

" Bah ! " cried the Cat. " Honey indeed ! I loathe the 
stuff. Now if you had a nice fat mouse . . . ! " ^ 

" Happy thought," said Reynard. "As it happens, I 
know a house close by where there are hundreds of mice, 
the fattest and sleekest creatures you ever saw in your life, 
and so tame that one can literally scoop them up by the score. 
I often catch a few myself 
when I am hungry and 
other game is scarce." 

" Take me to this 
house," said Tybert. 
'* Tame or not, I'll catch 
the mice if they are there. 
I love the creatures." And 
he licked his lips and 
stretched out his paws. 

Now Reynard had 
spoken the truth when he said that he knew a house where 
mice abounded, and it was true also that he often Went 
there — not in search of mice, but of chickens. The last 
time he had paid a visit he had found that the farmer had 
put a string noose over the hole by which he was used 
to enter, but fortunately for himself Reynard had discovered 
it in time. 

Towards this house he now led the unsuspecting Tybert, 

and having shown him the hole, bade him enter and take 

his fill of the mice. Tybert obeyed, but no sooner had he 

got his head through the hole than the trap was sprung, 

and there he was, caught. He gave a scream of pain and 

fear, and from behind Reynard answered mockingly : " Sing 

away, cousin. I love to hear your voice. But mind you 

don't frighten the mice ! " Then he took to his heels and 

ran back to his castle. 

6i 




" TAKE ME TO THIS HOUSE " 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

A minute or two later the farmer, having heard the 
Cat's miaulings, arrived armed with a heavy stick. " Ah, 
you thief," he cried, " I've got you at last, have I ? " And he 
began to lay the stick on the Cat's back with all his might. 
Tybert kicked and struggled, and managed at last to get 
free, but he was more dead than alive when he went limping 
back to the King's Court. 



IV. HOW BLAIREAU THE BADGER BROUGHT 
REYNARD TO TRIAL 

" This is monstrous," said King Nobel when he had 
heard Tybert 's piteous tale. "It is no use paltering any 
longer. We must burn this caitiff's castle about his ears." 

" One moment. Sire," said Blaireau the Badger, who was 
a great friend of Reynard's. " Our ancient laws demand 
that any person accused of crime shall be called three times 
before extreme measures are taken against him. Now Rey- 
nard has only been called twice. I propose, therefore, that 
he be given one more chance to render himself peacefully 
before your Majesty, and to defend himself. There are two 
sides to every story, and so far we have only heard one." 

" That is all very well," said the King, " but who will 
be the messenger ? It seems to me that the experiences of 
the other two will be little encouragement for a third." 

" If no one else will go," answered Blaireau, " I will go 
myself. Reynard has been a very good friend of mine in the 
past, and I may be able to appeal to his better self." 

" I doubt it," said the King ; " but go by all means, and 
bring him back if you can. Should you fail, I will batter 
down his castle stone by stone." 

So Blaireau went off on his mission, and arriving at the 
chateau, found Reynard in the midst of his family. 

" Look here, uncle," said he, " there must be an end to 
all nonsense. The King is at the end of his patience, and 

unless you obey his commands he is determined to stick at 
62 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

nothing with you. Tybert and Bruin are both badly knocked 
about, and the sympathy of all the animals is with them. But 
for my pleadings the King would have sent an army to burn 
your castle about your ears. Be sensible now, and come 
back quietly with me. You have wits enough to defend 




"Tybert and Bruin are badly knocked about 



yourself against all accusations and need not fear the issue. 
I tell you frankly, delay will be dangerous." 

" Ah," said Reynard, " if those others had only spoken 
to me as you have spoken, my dear nephew, things would 
have been very different. They were insolent and they paid 
the price, but nobody shall say that Reynard the Fox was 
impervious to good counsel. Of course I will go with you 
— the sooner the better. I have no fear of being able to 
silence my calumniators. The King can't live without me 
— he knows it very well, and that fact alone will provide him 
with a good motive for giving me a free pardon." 

63 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 



Then Reynard took a tender farewell of Hermeline, his 
wife, and Reynkin, his eldest son, and all the other children, 
and set off with Blaireau towards the King's Court. 

On the way Rey- 
nard said : " My dear 
Blaireau, this is a very 
solemn moment of 
my life ! I cannot 
help feeling that I 
have not, perhaps, 
always lived as right- 
eously as I might 
have done. It will 
relieve my mind 
somewhat if I might 
make confession of 
some of the most 
heinous of my 
crimes. Will you 
hear me ? " 

" Certainly," an- 
swered Blaireau. " I 
am glad to hear you 
have a contrite heart, 
uncle. Speak on by 
all means. Confes- 
sion is the first step 
towards repentance." 
" I have been a 
sad sinner," Reynard 
went on. " My 
heart fails me when 
I think of all the 
misery I have caused ! I weep for the poor Bear, whose nose 
and paws are skinless because of me, and for the Cat, who 
suffered a terrible beating at the hands of the farmer. Then 
there was the Wolf — did I ever tell you about the Wolf ? " 
64 




'AND CAUSED HIM TO JUMP AT LEAST TWENTY 
FEET INTO THE AIR " 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

"No," said Blaireau, " you did not." 

" Well," continued Reynard, " the Wolf and I were one 
day walking along the road when we came to a monastery. 
It was the time of evensong, and the sound of the bells made 
such a sweet music in the air that I felt my soul grow full 
of enthusiasm. ' Ah,' said I, 'if I were only one of the 
monks in that monastery, with what joy would I sound the 
bells ! ' Isengrim thought the idea a splendid one, and 
wished to carry it into practice, so, as he was not a monk, 
I took it upon myself to introduce him into the monastery 
at dead of night. There I tied him to the bell-rope and bade 
him pull, for the good of his soul. He pulled — ah, nephew, 
how enthusiastically he pulled ! The bells rang as they had 
never rung before, and all the monks in the monastery came 
running to see what was the matter. Isengrim would have 
run away if he could, but alas, I had tied him so firmly to 
the rope that he could not escape, and he got a sound beating 
for his pains. 

" Another time, still under the influence of his monastic 
ideas, Isengrim proposed to me that I should shave his head. 
I agreed, and when I had him in the chair, to my eternal 
shame be it said, I planted a burning firebrand on his pate, 
and caused him to jump at least twenty feet into the air. 
Ah, I am a miserable sinner." And Reynard broke into 
sobs and lamentations. 

" Never mind," said Blaireau consolingly, " since you 
are truly repentant, all will be forgiven you. See, there are 
the towers of the King's palace. We shall soon be there. 
Get ready to make your speech of defence, for you will need 
all your eloquence this day." 

V. HOW REYNARD TOLD THE KING OF A 
HIDDEN TREASURE 

When Reynard arrived at the court he found all the 
animals assembled to witness his trial. King Nobel sat on 
his throne, with the Queen by his side, and very cold and 

E " 65 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

stern was the glance which the monarch cast upon Master 
Fox as he stepped up and made his obeisance. " Reynard," 
said the King, " you have been accused of crimes so many 
and so grievous that if only the half of all the accusations 
are true, you have merited death a hundred times. What 
have you to say ? " 

Reynard put a paw up to his face and brushed away a 
tear ; then, with his voice broken with emotion, he answered : 
" My lord the King, I have been a miserable sinner, and 
there is nothing left for me to do but to cast myself upon 
your royal mercy. Where King Nobel sits, there justice 
and mercy sit also. I am sure of the one ; therefore I make 
bold to plead earnestly for the other. Perhaps, O King, I 
am not so bad as I have been painted. The tongues of 
enemies have uttered slanders before to-day, and brought 
upright men to ruin. All I ask, O King, is that you will 
let me state my case, and, when I shall have finished my 
tale, judge me according to my deserts. I will keep nothing 
back, for in this serious hour I wish to speak nothing but 
the naked truth. Listen to me, O King, and let these others 
listen also. Perchance the sad story of my wrongdoings, 
and of my gradual fall from righteousness, may be a lesson 
to many here, and by serving as an example help to keep 
them upon the strait and narrow path." 

" You have a glib tongue, Reynard," said the King. 
" It has saved you before to-day, but this time the count 
is too serious to be hidden by a mist of words. Yet speak 
on. The accused has a right to make his own defence, and 
that right I should be the last to deny, even to one forsworn 
and treacherous, as you have proved yourself to be." 

Reynard sobbed aloud. " Hard words, O King," said 
he, " and harder still because of the truth that is in them. 
I do not complain. Meekly I bow the head and make 
confession of my sins." 

At this all the animals settled themselves comfortably 
to listen. The idea of Reynard the Fox confessing anything 
was so new that not one of them would willingly have missed 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

a word. Those of the animals who knew Reynard well 
regarded him a little uneasily, but nobodyjbroke silence. 
Reynard remained for a time sobbing quietly with head 
bowed upon his paws, then, in a broken^voice, he began to 
speak : 

" From my very 
earliest years, O King," 
said he, " I was mis- 
chievous and unruly. Had 
there been anybody to 
give me counsel and guid- 
ance I might perhaps have 
outgrown the errors of my 
youth and become a 
worthy subject. Unfortu- 
nately I fell into bad com- 
pany, and, under the 
influence of evil companions 
went rapidly from bad to 
worse. Isengrim the Wolf 
was my friend in those 
early days. He it was who 
taught me to steal and to 
prey upon the defenceless 
creatures of the woods and 
fields. My first victim, I 
well remember, was a 
young lamb which had 
strayed from the fold . Isen- 
grim led me to her and persuaded me to kill her, and 
afterwards, in the same way, a goat and two young deer fell 
victims to my raging thirst for blood. Soon not a hen- 
house, not a fold was safe from my depredations. I killed 
for the sake of killing, and that part of the meat which I 
could not devour I gave to the Wolf, who was only too 
willing to take it, or hid it in certain holes and crannies 
in the wood." 

^1 




I WAS MISCHIEVOUS AND UNRULY 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

All the time that Reynard had been speaking Isengrim 
had been making frantic efforts to speak, but a glance from 
the King had kept him silent. Now he could contain him- 
self no longer. Trembling with fury, he rose to his feet 
and cried : " Lies ! All lies, O King ! Will your Majesty 
believe anything it pleases this slanderous dog to say ? " 

" Silence ! " cried the King. " Your turn will come 
later. For the present let the accused speak without interrup- 
tion ! " 

" Thanks, O King," said Reynard. " I can well under- 
stand the Wolf's wrath when his connexion with so vile 
a creature as I is thus brought to light. Yet I have sworn 
to tell the truth, and the truth I will tell without regard 
to persons. Sorry as I am to say it, the Wolf was not the 
only one to lead me into bad ways. Among my companions 
of those early days were also the Bear and the Cat. They 
made me hunt for them when I was young, and such was 
their voracity that there was little left for myself, and I 
should have died of hunger were it not for the fact that I 
was fortunate enough to discover a hidden treasure ! " 

" Eh, what's that ? " said the King. " Did you say a 
treasure ? " 

" Aye," answered Reynard, " a treasure of gold, my 
lord ; so great a treasure that it would take your servants 
many days even to count it all. And not gold alone, but 
precious gems — diamonds of the purest water, rubies red 
as blood, and emeralds green as the sea when the sun shines 
upon it ! " 

The Queen leaned forward upon her throne and fixed 
Reynard with burning eyes. " And pearls too ? " she 
whispered. 

" Pearls too, O Queen. Ropes of pearls that well would 
adorn your Majesty's fair neck. And jewelled crowns worthy 
of a royal brow ! Hidden deep in the earth they lie, all 
those riches, and now they will lie there for ever, for nobody 
knows of them but myself. Perhaps it is as well. The 
lust of gold is the motive of many crimes, and this treasure 
68 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

has already been the cause of a serious attempt against the 
throne and the Hfe of the King ! But all this has nothing 
to do with my confession. With your Majesty's leave I 
will go on with what I was 
about to say." 

" One moment," said 
the Queen. " Those 
crowns you spoke of — de- 
scribe them more fully. 
What stones had they, and 
how set .'' " 

" Time enough for 
that," cried the King. 
" You shall try the crowns 
upon your head before all 
is done. Let the Fox tell 
us where this treasure is 
hidden ; that is the impor- 
tant thing ! " 

" I had thought to carry 
the secret with me to the 
grave," said Reynard, " but 
in this solemn hour I can 
hide nothing. If it is your 
Majesty's will, I will tell 
all." 

*" Beware, O King ! " 
cried the Bear. " He will 
deceive you now as he has 
his lying words ! " 

" Silence ! " cried the King. " This matter concerns 
me, and me alone. Let Reynard speak ! " 

Reynard cast a look of triumph at Bruin and Isengrim, 
and, smiling faintly, went on with his tale. 

" The treasure was discovered first of all by my father. 
He came upon it one day when he was hunting in the 
forest, among the ruins of a palace that once belonged to 

69 




" AND PEARLS TOO ? " SHE WHISPERED 



deceived others. Believe not 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

an ancient king. There, in a deep hole, under a big 
stone, he found the gold and gems, and for ever after- 
wards he was a changed creature. No longer blithe and 
care-free, he slunk about as though overburdened with 
responsibility. He knew himself rich beyond compare 
— richer than any king in all the world, and gradually into 
his heart there crept the desire to win, by means of his riches, 
a place of power. 

" At that time, O King, my father was bitter against 
your Majesty because of your disapproval of his manner of 
life, and I am sorry to say that he determined to wrest you 
from the throne and to set up another in your place. Full 
of this project, he took Tybert the Cat into his confidence. 
The two met together secretly in the forest of the Ardennes, 
and after much discussion they decided to offer the throne 
to Bruin the Bear ! " 

" Ah ! " ejaculated the King, turning his gaze upon 
Bruin, who was too furious to speak. " So now we know 
why you wished to still Reynard's tongue." 

" The Bear was delighted with the prospect," Reynard 
went on, " and strutted about the forest as though he were 
already crowned. He was always talking of the fine laws 
he would make and the splendid time he would have, but 
he was too stupid to be of much use as a plotter. Indeed, 
it was for reason of his stupidity that my father and Tybert 
chose him as king, for they thought they could make of him 
a useful tool. They had, however, to lay their plans without 
him, and the better to carry them out, they called Isengrim 
the Wolf, and Grimbard the Ape, into conference. The 
five met together at a certain place between Heyst and Gand, 
and it was there, O King, that your death was decided upon. 
Each of the conspirators took a solemn oath not to divulge 
the proceedings to a living soul, and having settled the very 
hour and day of your Majesty's assassination, they departed 
to their homes. 

" Now, like all apes, Grimbard was a chatterer, and no 
sooner was he within his house than he told his wife all 
70 




I SAW HIM STOP AT THE FOOT OF A GREAT TREE ' 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

that had happened, explaining to her that it was a great 
secret and she was not to tell a soul. Of course she promised 
faithfully to keep a still tongue in her head, and as a matter 
of fact I believe she did manage to keep the secret for a 
whole day. Then she happened to meet my wife in the 
woods, and having sworn her to secrecy, told her the whole 
thing. My wife, out of a feeling of love and regard to your 
Majesty, thought it her duty to inform me, which she did, 
immediately she returned home, without keeping back a 
single detail. 

" I could not believe my ears at first. * What ! Bruin, 
king ! ' I cried. ' That great fat lump of hairy stupidity, 
king of the animals ! Is the world going mad ? Would 
they dethrone our loved and gracious lord in favour of so 
base a beast ? ' There and then, O King, I raised my hand 
above my head and swore to defend your Majesty's life to 
the last. ' While Reynard lives,' I said, ' the King's throne 
shall be secure, cost what it may ! ' 

" From that moment I thought of nothing else but how 
best to thwart my father's base plans. It seemed to me that 
if I could only discover the treasure I might stop the whole 
thing, for the conspirators relied upon the gold to pay the 
armies they intended to raise. For days, therefore, I lurked 
about the woods, following my father wherever he went, in 
the hope that, sooner or later, he would betray the treasure's 
whereabouts. But he was far too wary to go near it, and 
had it not been for the stupidity of the Ape I might have 
remained none the wiser. One day I noticed Grimbard 
wheeling a barrow through the forest with an air of great 
secrecy, and following him unseen, at a safe distance, I saw 
him stop in the midst of the- ruins of that ancient palace in 
the forest. There, at the foot of a great tree, he lifted a 
heavy stone, discovering a deep hole, from which he took 
several vases filled to the brim with golden coins. These 
he placed upon his barrow, and having carefully covered up 
the hole again, trundled off into the forest. 

" No sooner had he disappeared amid the shade of the 
72 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

trees than I ran forward and lifted the stone. What a sight 
met my eyes ! There lay the treasure — chest upon chest of 
shining gold, and heaps of jewels flashing with rays of many- 




The Conspiracy gained Adherents every Day 

coloured light. My eyes were nearly bUnded by the 
splendour. 

" Even as I stood gazing in a sort of dazed trance, I 
realized what I must do. If I could get this treasure away 
from the place where it was hidden, and, unknown to the 

73 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

conspirators, transport it somewhere else, their plot would 
be strangled at its birth. Unfortunately the treasure was 
heavy and I had no means of conveyance — not even a barrow, 
but I took counsel of Hermeline, my wife, and she, noble 
soul as she is, strengthened me in my resolve. ' Though 
we wear our paws to the bone,' said she, ' we must take the 
treasure away and save the life of our noble and our beloved 
King.' That very night we began our task, and little by 
little we moved the treasure, hiding it in a safe place known 
only to ourselves. For the best part of a month we laboured, 
working only at night, and fearful every moment that we 
should be discovered. At last everything was finished, and 
the whole of the treasure removed. 

" In the meantime, the conspiracy gained adherents 
every day. My father was the life and soul of the plot. 
He sent messengers far and near, into every corner of the 
land, to win the animals over to his side. ' Those who enrol 
under my banner,' said he, ' shall receive a large sum of 
money paid in advance. I do not ask them to trust my 
word, but to come to me and let me pour the money into 
their hands.' In such circumstance what wonder that his 
supporters grew every hour. Before long he had gathered 
together an immense army, which was increased by troops 
raised by the Bear, the Wolf, and the Cat. Bruin, in par- 
ticular, was very proud of his success in raising soldiers. 
He already fancied himself king, and walked about giving 
orders to everybody who crossed his path. 

" Now the time for payment had come, so my father, 
accompanied by Grimbard and the Cat, made his way to the 
hiding-place of the treasure to bring out the gold. I watched 
them- from afar, and saw them uncover the hole, and never 
to my dying day shall I forget the scream my father uttered 
when he saw that the treasure was no longer there. Franti- 
cally the two of them dug up the soil around the place in 
the hope that they were mistaken, but not a single gold piece 
could they find. At last Grimbard, chattering with fear, 
turned and slunk away, while my father crept home and 
74 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

hanged himself with a cord to a nail just outside the back 
door. A terrible end, O King, but though he wasj^my 
father, I cannot help 
feeling he deserved 
the misery he had 
brought upon him- 
self. As for Bruin, 
he found himself 
faced with the ne- 
cessity of explaining 
to the soldiers that 
no money was forth- 
coming, and being 
a coward at heart, 
he shirked the task. 
He, too, fled secretly, 
and Tybert the Cat 
soon followed. To- 
day, sire, these three 
stand among the 
foremost of my 
accusers. If I have 
sinned, have they 
not sinned too, and 
in greater measure ? " 
The King waved 
his paw impatiently. 
*' We will deal with 
them presently," 
said he. " For the 
present, keep to your 
tale. Where is the 
treasure hidden? 
Soeak and lie not ^"^ ^"'^ °^ golden armour emrik wore 

on your life ! " 

" Why should I lie, O King ? " asked Reynard in an 
aggrieved tone. " Have I not sworn to tell the truth ? In 

75 







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/Q /C^J '^ ,-JW^ 


\ ^^--'^^m 


^^^'"iy^L 






1 




# 


^^W J^^S '"'4 ^^Sl ■ £ 


/t/^n 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Western Flanders there is a little wood called Husterloo, In 
the midst of that wood lies a pool, which is known by the 
name of Krekelput.* It is a dreary place, O King, and 
solitary, for it lies among marshes where no man can pass. 
No sound is heard in that place save only the call of the 
carrion-crow by day, and the dismal hooting of the owl by 
night. There, close to that pool, I hid the treasure, in a 
hole in the earth which I covered with soil, marking the 
place with three great stones. Remove those stones, and dig 
up the soil, and you will discover three enormous golden 
vases, beautifully carved and modelled. In the first is the 
royal crown of the ancient King Emrik, which Bruin thought 
to wear. In the second is the crown of Emrik's queen — 
a thing of wonder, flashing with splendid gems ; and in the 
third is the suit of golden armour Emrik wore. Beneath 
these three vases lies the rest of the treasure — chest after 
chest of golden coins, ropes of pearls, necklaces of diamonds 
and rubies, so many gems that I cannot describe them all. 
If your Majesty will send trusty messengers to Krekelput, 
they can easily prove the truth of what I say ! " 

During this recital the King had raised himself from his 
throne in his excitement, and now he turned to the assembled 
animals and cried : " Which of you knows Krekelput ? Who 
will go and fetch the treasure ? " 

Nobody answered, for, as a matter of fact, not a soul 
present had ever heard of Krekelput before Reynard 
mentioned the name. 

" Come, come," cried the King. " One of you must 
know the wood of Husterloo and the pool of which Reynard 
speaks ! " 

" Be patient with them. Sire," said Reynard. " They are 
afraid to speak. The Hare knows the place very well. 
Do you not remember, friend," said he, fixing the Hare 
with a menacing glance, " you took refuge in the wood of 
Husterloo one day when the hounds were after you ! " 

" I cannot remember very well," stammered the Hare, 

* Snail's well. 
76 





J)""'^* 



THEY WALKED IN SILENCE 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

who was nearly out of his senses with fright. " Perhaps I 
did ! " 

" Of course you did," said Reynard, " and you could 
find the place again, no doubt ? " 

" I am not sure," said the poor Hare, who indeed had 
never heard of Husterloo. 

" A truce to all this ! " cried the King impatiently. " If 
you cannot remember, Reynard shall go with you to refresh 
your memory, and Bellyn the Ram shall accompany the 
two of you to see that you do not run away. Be off with 
you at once, and bring back the treasure as quickly as you 
can, for my eyes are aching for a sight of Emrik's crown 
and the suit of golden armour Emrik wore." 

" And forget not the ropes of pearls and the jewelled 
coronet ! " cried the Queen. " Bring those first ! " 

" I will bring everything in good time," said Reynard ; 
" trust me for that. But before I set out on this journey 
I must go to Rome to ask absolution of the Pope for all the 
sins I have committed. Suffer me first of all to go on this 
pilgrimage, O King, and, if you will, send Bellyn and the 
Hare with me to see that I do not escape. Nothing is further 
from my thoughts, but after what has happened I cannot 
expect your Majesty to trust my word, and I am content 
to go in ward." 

" Be it so ! " said the King. " Set off at once and return 
as soon as may be. And now there is another little affair 
to settle ! Where is Bruin, our would-be king. Stand 
forth. Bruin, with your precious conspirators, the Wolf, the 
Cat, and the Ape." But nobody answered, for seeing how 
affairs were going all the four had quietly slipped away, 
fearing to stay and face the vengeance of the King. 

Reynard smiled maliciously as he put on a pilgrim's 
cloak and marched away with Bellyn and the Hare along the 
road that led from the Court. 

For several miles they walked in silence. Then Reynard 
sighed and said : " Ah, friends, how I long to see my dear 
wife and children just once more before I go on this long 
78 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

journey that lies before us. Let us take the road that leads 
past my castle of Malpertuis. It is not much out of our 
way, and we can enter there and refresh ourselves." 

The Hare was too frightened to dispute the matter, and 
Bellyn on his part good-humouredly agreed, so the three 




Reynakd sprang at his Throat 

of them took the road to Malpertuis, and before long came 
to the gate of Reynard's castle. 

" Here we are at last. Cousin Bellyn," said Reynard. 
" Did you ever see such fine pastures ! You must be famished 
after our long tramp. Take a rest a while and eat some of 
this sweet grass, while I and the Hare go into the house and 
console my wife for the long separation that is before her. 
We shall not stay more than a few minutes." 

" Well, hurry up," said Bellyn, who had already begun 
to graze. " I will wait for you, but don't stay taUcing all 
day ! " 

79 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

So Reynard and the Hare went into the house, where 
they were met by Hermehne, Reynard's devoted spouse. 

" What, husband," said she, " are you back already ? 
How did things go at Court ? " 

" Just as I said they would," answered Reynard. " When 
the King heard my tale he acquitted me of the charges that 
had been brought against me, and allowed me to return 
here in honour. The Wolf, the Bear, and the Cat, who 
were my most powerful enemies, have fled the Court, so 
that, for the time being, they have escaped my vengeance; 
but I have brought with me this fellow whom you see at 
my side, for he was among the foremost of my accusers ! " 

When he heard these words the poor Hare trembled 
with fright, and turned to flee, but in a moment Reynard 
sprang at his throat. One loud cry he gave for help, but 
Bellyn, peacefully cropping the grass outside, did not hear, 
and the next moment the Hare was dead. Then Reynard 
and Hermeline and all the little foxes had a splendid feast, 
and in less than half an hour nothing was left of the Hare's 
carcass but the head. 

While they were still feasting there came a loud knocking 
at the door. It was Bellyn, who, having eaten his fill, was 
now impatient with waiting. 

Snatching up the head of the Hare Reynard put it into 
a bag, which he carefully sealed. Then, running to the 
door, he threw it open. 

" You have been a long time ! " grumbled Bellyn. 
" Where is the Hare ? " 

" Oh, he is just inside, playing with my little ones," 
said Reynard. " He's a merry fellow, that one, and so fond 
of children that it is beautiful to watch him. Leave him 
alone for a time. He'll be out presently. While you are 
waiting, you might run back to the King with this bag, 
which he asked me to send him. It contains papers referring 
to the conspiracy — papers which involve a great many people 
at Court, in fact nearly all of the animals except yourself. 
Hurry off with it, and give it into the King's own hands, 
80 



" YOU HAVE MERITED DEATH A HUNDRED TIMES " 



THE TRIAL OF REYNARD THE FOX 

and, as you value your life, do not open the bag upon the 
road, or the King will suspect that you also are involved 
and have erased your name on the way." 

" Did the King say I was to take back the papers ? " 
asked Bellyn. 

" Of course he did ! " answered Reynard. " ' Send them 
back by my trusty Bellyn ' — those were his very words, 
and he whispered in my ear that you were the only one 
among the whole court that he could trust. I should not 
be surprised if he gave you a handsome reward, and perhaps 
made you a peer of the realm ! " 

" Give me the bag ! " cried Bellyn. " I'll take it to the 
King. I shall not be long. Wait until I come back, and 
tell the Hare that he is on no account to set out without 
me." 

" Never fear," said Reynard. " He'll not stir a step out 
of my castle — I'll answer for that. Farewell, good Bellyn. 
I will be waiting here when you return ! " 

Full of pride at his important mission, Bellyn trotted off 
down the road, bearing the bag very carefully with him, 
and Reynard, with a spiteful smile, stood and watched him 
till he was out of sight. 

In good time Bellyn returned to the Court and handed 
to the astonished King the bag which Reynard had sent. 
The King broke the seal, and gazed inside, while the Queen 
pressed close to him, peering over his shoulder. The next 
moment he gave a cry of horror, as he drew forth the head 
of the poor Hare. The Queen fell to the ground in 
a dead faint, and for a time the King remained holding 
the head in his hands, gazing at it vacantly. Then he cast 
it from him, and without a word turned his steps towards 
his palace, where he immediately took to his bed, for the 
shock of the thing had made him ill. Not for several weeks 
afterwards, when he had somewhat recovered, was he able 
to turn his thoughts to vengeance. Then he gave orders 
for a large army to march to Reynard's castle of Malpertuis 
to raze it to the ground, and bring back the Fox in chains. 

F 8i 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

The army set out, but when they arrived at Malpertuis 
they found the birds had flown. Reynard and HermeUne 
and all the little foxes had left the country, and were never 
seen again. 

Some people say that they took up their abode in a distant 
land, where Reynard soon began once more to play his old 
tricks, until the King of that land caught him one day red- 
handed, and hanged him on the nearest tree without giving 
him a chance to say a word. I do not know whether this 
story is true, although I hope it is. All that I can say for 
certain is that Reynard and his family were never seen in 
King Nobel's dominions from that day on. 





7 ?,■ 



Calf and Goat 




THE MAGIC CAP 

HERE was once a poor countryman, of whom 
his neighbours said that he had no more wits 
than he was bom with, and that was not many. 
He was, indeed a simple-minded fellow, and 
anybody could get the better of him. One 
day the countryman's wife said to him : 
" Jan, put on your best smock and your soundest clogs, 
and go to the market to try and sell our calf. She is a 
good calf and you ought to get at least a hundred francs 
for her." 

Away went Jan, along the road to the market town, with 
the calf behind him. He felt quite glad to be out on this 
fine spring day, and he hummed a merry tune as he plodded 
along. Three students who were lounging at the door of an 
inn saw him pass, and, marking his air of simplicity, thought 
it would be good fun to play a joke upon him, so one of them 
went up to him and said : 

83 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" Good -morning, friend ! How much are you asking for 
your goat ? " 

" Goat ? " answered the peasant in surprise. " This 
is not a goat, but a calf ! " 

" Indeed ! " said the student politely. " And who told 
you that ? " 

" It was my wife," answered the peasant. " ' Jan,' she 
said, ' go to the market and try to sell our calf.' I am sure 
she said calf. I could not make a mistake about such a 
thing ! " 

" Your wife was playing a joke on you," said the student. 
" Anybody can see that is a goat. If you don't believe me, 
ask the next person you meet on the road." And he went off, 
laughing. 

Jan continued his walk, a little troubled in his mind, 
and before very long he saw the second of the students 
coming towards him. " Stay a minute, sir," he cried. 
" Do you mind looking at this animal of mine and telling me 
what sort of a creature it is ? " 

" Why, a goat, of course," answered the student. 

" You're wrong," said the peasant. " It's a calf. My 
wife says so, and she could not be mistaken ! " 

" Have it your own way ! " repUed the student, " but if 
you'll take my advice you won't pretend that animal is a 
calf when you get to the market, unless you want to be hooted 
out of the town ! " 

" Ah ! " said Jan, and he went on his way, muttering 
to himself, and casting many a troubled glance at the innocent 
calf who ambled along peacefully behind him. " If it is a 
goat it ought to have horns," he said to himself. " And it 
hasn't got any horns. But if it is a calf it will have horns 
when it grows to be a cow. Perhaps it is a goat-calf. I 
wonder whether goat-calves have horns ! " And he continued 
to puzzle his poor brains about the matter until he was 
suddenly interrupted by a shout from the side of the road. 
The shout came from the third student, who had been 
waiting for him. 
84 



THE MAGIC CAP 



" Hallo, you there ! " cried the student. " How much 
do you want for your goat ? " 

" Goat ? Goat ? " murmured the peasant in dismay. 
" Here, take the thing. If it's a goat, I don't want it, for I 
was sent to market to sell a calf. You may have it for nothing 
—I'll make you a present of it ! " And so saying, he pushed 
the cord into the student's 
hand. Then turning his 
back without another word, 
he retraced his steps to- 
wards his home. 

When his wife heard 
what had happened she was 
furious. " You stupid lout!" 
she cried, " could you not 
see that you were being 
made a fool of ? " And 
she called him all the names 
she could lay her tongue to, 
until the poor fellow blushed 
and hung his head for 
shame. Her anger did not 
last long, however, for she 
was a good woman and she 
knew that her husband's 
simpUcity was not his fault, but his misfortune. Fortunately, 
she had quite enough wits for them both, and instead of 
wasting more time in reproaches, she set to work to think 
how she might pay back the practical jokers in their own 
coin. It did not take her long to think of a plan, and as 
the first step towards carrying it out, she put on her bonnet 
and went off to the town, where she called at three inns, 
paying at each of them for a dinner for four persons, the 
dinner to be eaten on the next market day. Returning 
home, she explained the plan to her husband and gave him 
very exact instructions as to the part he was to play. 

When the next market day came round Jan set off for 

85 




' YOU WERE BEING MADE A FOOL OF 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

the town, and by the door of the very first inn on the road he 
met the three students. They exchanged a sly smile when 
they saw him, and one of them said : " Good morning, good 
fellow. And how do you find yourself to-day ? I notice 
that you have no goat with you this time." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Jan, " that was a good joke you 
played on me, but I bear you no ill-will for it. Come in 
and drink a glass of wine. I'm in funds this morning and 
I'll willingly stand treat." 

The students accepted Jan's offer with enthusiasm, for 
they belonged to that class of men who are always thirsty. 
Accordingly the four went into the tavern ; and Jan called 
for wine. When the time came to pay for it, he called the 
serving-maid, and taking off^ his cap, spun it round three 
times on his finger. " Madam," said he, " everything is 
paid for, isn't it ? " 

'* Yes, sir, and thank you very much," answered the 
serving-maid. 

The three students watched this procedure with a 
good deal of surprise, but Jan carried off the whole affair 
as if it were the most natural thing in the world. 
" Now, my friends," said he, " the doctors say it is bad to 
drink on an empty stomach. What do you say to a good 
meal ? " 

" Excellent," cried the students. 

" Very well then, come along with me to the next inn, 
and you shall have one." 

Laughing in their sleeves at the peasant's simplicity, the 
students followed. Arrived at the inn, Jan ordered dinner 
for four, and a heap of good things were put upon the table. 
After the repast, he called the serving-maid to him, took off 
his cap as before, and twirled it round three times on his 
finger, " Now then," said he, " everything is paid for, isn't 
that so ? " 

" Certainly, sir," answered the serving-maid, " and I am 
very much obliged to you." 

At this the three students opened their eyes even wider 
86 







JAN AND THE THREE STUDENTS 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

than before, but Jan took not the slightest notice of their 
astonishment. 

" What do you say, friends," he asked, " shall we go 
on to the town together and wash the dinner down with a 
glass of ale apiece ? " 

" As many as you please," answered the students joyfully, 
and so they followed Jan to the town, where he entered a 
third tavern and ordered drinks all round. Then, taking 
off his cap once again, he twirled it round three times on his 
finger, and said to the innkeeper : " Everything is paid for, 
isn't it, my good man ? " 

" Certainly, sir," said the innkeeper, bowing. 

But this was more than the curiosity of the students 
could stand. 

" Look here, gossip," said one of them, " how is it 
that you are able to get food and drink for nothing everywhere 
you go, simply by twirling your cap in people's faces ? " 

" Oh, that's easily explained," answered Jan, " This 
cap of mine is a magic cap, which was left to me by my 
great-great-grandmother, who was a witch, so L have heard 
say. If I twirl it on my finger, and say, ' Everything is 
paid for,' — well, everything is paid for ! You understand 
me?" 

" Perfectly," said the student. " My faith, but that is a 
wonderful cap — the very thing to have when one goes a 
journey ! Will you sell it to me ? " 

" How much will you give me for it ? " asked Jan. 

" Two hundred francs ! " 

" Nonsense ! Do you think I am going to brave my 
wife's anger for a paltry two hundred francs ? " 

" Well then, three hundred." 

" Not enough ! My wife says it is worth a fortune." 

" Four hundred." 

Jan shook his head doubtfully, and, seeing his hesitation, 
the student cried : 

" Come now, we'll give you five hundred, and not a penny 
more. You'd better accept, or you'll lose your chance." 
88 



THE MAGIC CAP 



** Well then, hand over the money. I don't know what 
my wife will say, but ..." 

" She'll give you a kiss for making such a splendid bar- 
gain," cried the student, pushing a bag of coins into Jan's 
hand and snatching the magic cap. " Hurry off home as 
fast as you can to tell her the good news ! " Then the three 
went away, laughing, slap- 
ping each other on the back 
in their joy at having got 
the better of the simple 
peasant. 

That afternoon the stu- 
dents, eager to take ad- 
vantage of the qualities of 
the magic cap, invited about 
fifty of their friends to a 
splendid feast at the largest 
inn in the town. Every- 
body who was invited came, 
as you may imagine, and 
the resources of the inn- 
keeper were taxed to the 
utmost to supply the hungry 
and thirsty crowd with all 
that they wanted. When 
the feast was ended, the student who had Jan's cap called 
the host, and twirling it three times round his finger, said : 
" Now, sir, everything is paid for, isn't it ? " 

" Paid for ? " cried the innkeeper. " What do you 
mean ? I've not seen the colour of your money yet." 

At this reply the student's face fell, but one of his com- 
panions snatched the cap from his hands. " Idiot," said he, 
" you twirled the cap the wrong way ! I was watching the 
peasant carefully, and he twisted it Uke this." So saying, 
he gave the cap a twirl and said : " Now then, my good sir, 
I think you will agree that everything is paid for." 

" I don't know whether you are trying to play a joke on 

89 




TWIRLED THE CAP ROUND THREE TIMES ON 
HIS FINGER 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

me ? " answered the innkeeper grimly, " but your idea of 
humour is not mine. You had better pay up at once, before 
I call the police ! " 

" Here, let me try," cried the third ; and in his turn he 
twirled the cap, and, fixing the host with his eye, repeated 
that everything was paid for. 

At this the innkeeper flew into a passion, and made such 
a fuss that the room was in an uproar. It was only by promis- 
ing to pay him at once that the innkeeper could be quietened 
down, and prevented from putting his threat of calling the 
police into execution. The banquet cost a good round sum, 
and as the three students had no money left, their invited 
guests were obhged to subscribe the money between them, 
which they did with much grumbling. Afterwards they 
took their three hosts outside and dipped them into the 
horse-trough to punish them for their bad taste in playing 
practical jokes on their friends. 

And a few miles away, in their little cottage, Jan and 
his wife sat counting the five hundred francs he had got for 
his greasy old cap, which indeed had not been left him by 
his great-great-grandmother, but which was as old and 
ragged as though it had ! 




90 



JAN AND JANNETTE 



i 



I 




:jii 




Were cabhied safely over to the other Bank 




SUGAR-CANDY HOUSE 

AN and Jannette were brother and sister. 
They Uved near a big wood, and every day 
they used to go to play there, fishing for stickle- 
backs in the streams, and making necklaces of 
red berries. One day they wandered farther 
from their home than usual, and all of a sudden 
they came to a brook crossed by a pretty red bridge. On 
the other side of the bridge, half hidden among the trees, 
they espied the roofs of a little pink cottage, which, when they 
came closer, they found to be built entirely of sugar-candy ! 
Here was a delightful find for a little boy and girl who loved 
sweetstuff ! They lost no time in breaking off pieces of 
the roof and popping them into their mouths. 

Now in that house there lived an old wolf whose name 
was Garon. He was paralysed in one leg, and could not 
run very fast, but in all other respects he was as fierce and 

91 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

strong as he had been in his youth. When he heard Jan 
and Jannette breaking off bits of his roof he growled out, 
" Who is touching my Sugar-Candy House ? " Then he 
came limping out to see who it was, but by that time the 
children were safely hidden in the woods. 

" Who dares to touch my Sugar-Candy House ? " roared 
the wolf again. 

Then Jan replied : 

" Ifs the toind so mild, 
It's the wind so mild, 
That lovable child ! " 

This satisfied the old wolf, and back he went to his house, 
grumbling. 

The next day Jan and Jannette once again crossed 
over the little red bridge, and broke some more candy from 
the wolf's house. Out came Garon again, bristling all over. 

" Who is touching my Sugar-Candy House ? " he roared. 

And Jan and Jannette replied : 

" It's the wind so mild. 
It's the wind so mild, 
That lovable child ! " 

" Very well," said the wolf, and he went back again, 
but this time there was a gleam of suspicion in his eye. 

The next day was stormy, and hardly had Jan and 
Jannette reached the Sugar-Candy House than the wolf 
came out, and surprised them in the very act of breaking 
a piece off his window-sill. 

" Oho ! " said he. "It was the wind so mild, was it .? 
That lovable child, eh ? Precious lovable children, I must 
say ! Gr-r-r, I'll eat them up ! " And he sprang at Jan 
and Jannette, who took to their heels and ran off as fast 
as their legs could carry them. Garon pursued them at a 
good speed in spite of his stiff paw, and although he never 
gained upon them, yet he kept them in sight, and refused 
92 




•' GR-R-R, I'LL EAT THEM UP I ' 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

to give up the chase. The children looked back once or 
twice, and saw that the wolf was still following them, but 
they were not very much afraid, because they were confident 
of their ability to outrun him. 

All of a sudden they found their way barred by a river. 
There was no bridge across it, and the water was very deep. 
What were they to do ? Nearer and nearer came the wolf ! 

In the middle of the river some ducks were swimming, 
and Jan called out to them : " Little ducks ! Little ducks ! 
Carry us over the river on your backs, for if you do not 
the wolf will get us ! " 

So the ducks came swimming up, and Jan and Jannette 
climbed each on to the back of one, and were carried safely 
over to the other bank. 

Presently the wolf, in his turn, came to the river. He 
had seen how the children had managed to cross, and he 
roared out at the ducks in a terrible voice, " Come and 
carry me over, or I'll eat you all up ! " 

" Very well," answered the ducks, and they swam to 
the bank, and Garon balanced himself on four of them, 
one paw on the back of each. But they had no intention 
of carrying the wicked old wolf to the other side, for they 
did not love him or any of his tribe, and, moreover, they 
objected to his impolite way of asking a favour. So, at a 
given signal from the leader, all the ducks dived in mid- 
stream, and left old Garon struggling in the water. Three 
times he went down and three times he came up, but the 
fourth time he sank never to rise any more. 

That was the end of old Garon, and a good job, too, say I. 
I don't know what became of his Sugar-Candy House, but 
I dare say, if you could find the wood, and the sun had 
not melted the candy, or the rain washed it away, you might 
break a bit of it off for yourselves. 




J.(i. 



Jaco Peter and his Friend 




POOR PETER 

HERE was once a man named Jaco Peter who was 
so poor that he had not two sous to rub together. 
His clothes were rags, his boots were shocking, 
and as for his house, it was nothing but a 
miserable hovel hardly fit for a dog. The only 
friend poor Peter had in the world was a big 
fox who was called Reynard the Red because of the colour 
of his hide. 

One day as Poor Peter was walking along the road looking 
out for stray scraps of food which he could pick up for his 
dinner, whom should he meet but Reynard, who was going 
off to spy round a farmhouse where, he had been told, there 
were some fine fat chickens. 

" How now, Peter," said Reynard, " you look very miser- 
able to-day ! What is the matter ? " 

" I have fallen on bad luck," answered Peter gloomily. 
*' I have found nothing to-day but two cabbage-stalks and a 

95 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

half-gnawed bone, and to make matters worse, the bone has 
no marrow in it." 

" Why do you eat such stuff ? " asked Reynard disgustedly. 
" Look at me — I am just as poor as you, yet I live on the fat 
of the land ! And how do I do it, Peter ? Why, by using 
my wits ! Cheer up, my friend, you shall be a man of fortune 
yet, for I'll take your case in hand myself ! " 

Reynard was as good as his word. The same day he called 
at the King's palace and asked if he might borrow a bushel 
measure. Such an unusual request from a fox caused some 
amazement and the matter was brought to the notice of the 
King himself, who sent for Reynard and asked him what he 
wanted with such a thing. 

" The fact is," answered Reynard, " that a friend of mine, 
a certain Lord Jaco Peter, has come by a good deal of money, 
and he wishes to measure it." 

" Very well," said the King, " you may take the measure, 
but I would like to have it back when you have done with it, 
if you do not mind." 

Off went Reynard with the bushel basket, and the same 
night, having stuck a couple of sous to the bottom of it with a 
bit of grease, he sent it back with a message to say that it 
was not large enough, and might he have another ? In 
reply, the King sent a two-bushel measure, and after a time 
Reynard sent this back also, with a request for a larger one 
still. " If I have to measure the money with a thing like 
this," said he, " I shall be a month over the task." 

" That friend of yours must be an enormously wealthy 
man," said the King. " Let me see— what did you say his 
name was ? Lord Jaco Peter ? I do not seem to remember 
a lord of that name in my dominions ! " 

" He is a foreign noble," said Reynard glibly, " who has 
only lately arrived in this country. He will shortly be coming 
to pay his respects to your Majesty, for it is his intention 
to ask for the hand of the Princess, your daughter, in 
marriage." 

" That is a thing one must consider," replied the King, 
96 



POOR PETER 

" but in the meantime I will gladly give your noble friend an 
audience." 

Away went Reynard in high feather and recounted to 




" Smear yourself from Head to Foot " 

Poor Peter all that had happened. " The affair is as good as 
finished," said he, " you shall marry the Princess and sit at 
the King's right hand ! " 

Peter looked down at his clothes, which indeed, were too 
well ventilated to be quite seemly, and made a grimace. " A 

G 97 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

fine lord I shall look ! " said he, " with my. toes sticking out 
of my boots and holes in my breeches." 

" Never mind about that," Reynard answered. " Just 
leave everything to me, and all be well." 

The next day, when the time came for the pair to set out 
for the palace, Reynard said to his friend : " Now pay great 
attention to what I have to say. Close by the King's palace 
there is a big muddy puddle in the middle of the road. When 
you come to that puddle I want you to trip over yourself 
and fall plump into it. Don't let there be any half measures ! 
Get right into the mud — wallow in it, and smear yourself 
from head to foot ! " 

" But why . . . ? " asked Peter. 

" Never mind about why. Do as I tell you ! " 

Poor Peter carried out his directions to the letter. When 
they reached the puddle he pretended to slip, and fell souse 
into it, covering himself with a thick layer of mud. At sight 
of the disaster Reynard began to cry out in dismay, and the 
guards at the King's palace, who had seen the accident, came 
running up to offer their aid. 

" Did you fall down } " asked one of them politely. 
Peter was wiping the mud out of his mouth and could not 
answer, but the fox cried : "Of course he has fallen down, 
oaf ! Do you think he sat in the puddle for amusement. 
Don't stand gaping there, but run to the palace quickly, 
and borrow a change of clothes, for this is Lord Jaco Peter 
who is on his way to visit the King. And look you," he 
added, as the guards ran off, " see that you bring some robes 
worthy of my lord's great estate, or it will be the worse for 
you ! " 

Away went the guards, and told the King's Chamberlain 
about the catastrophe. A few minutes later they returned 
bearing with them a magnificent robe of cloth-of-gold, 
beautifully embroidered and sewn with precious stones. 
Then they led Peter to a chamber, where he bathed himself 
and donned his new finery. Unfortunately the Chamber- 
lain had forgotten to send any shoes, so there was Peter 
98 



POOR PETER 

with his toes sticking out of his boots under his magnificent 
gown. 

" Never mind," said Reynard, " you must keep your 




Reynard seized the Opportunity to warn his Friend 

feet out of sight," and he led him before the King, who was 
immensely taken with his appearance. 

" Tell me," he said to Reynard, after greetings had been 
exchanged, " why does your friend keep staring at his clothes. 
One would think he was not used to them ! " 

Reynard smiled. " As a matter of fact, your Majesty," 

99 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

he answered, " he is not. This dress of his came out of your 
Majesty's wardrobe, for he had the ill-fortune to spoil his 
own on the way here, by falling into a puddle. The gown is 
good enough, as it goes, of course ; but my friend is used to 
something far finer. I would wager a thousand crowns he is 

thinking this very 
moment that he has 
never been so poorly 
clad before in his 
life ! Is it not so, 
my lord .? " he added, 
turning to Peter. 

Peter gave a grin 
and a nod of the head, 
and the affair passed 
without further com- 
ment, but on their 
way in to dinner 
Reynard seized the 
opportunity to warn 
his friend against 
further faults of de- 
portment. But, as 
the saying goes, it is 
no use trying to make 
a silk purse out of a 
sow's ear, and no 
sooner were they seated at table, and Peter saw the magnificent 
golden dishes, the delicate cut glass, and the fine candle- 
sticks, than he opened his eyes wide, and gave an exclamation 
of astonishment. 

" What is the matter now ? " asked the King, staring at 
him. 

" I crave your Majesty's pardon," said Reynard. " My 
friend is a little overwhelmed, for your customs are new to 
him. In his own palace, you see, he is used to a certain 
degree of luxury — such a service of plate, for instance, as this 

lOO 




AN EXCLAMATION OF ASTONISHMENT 



POOR PETER 

on the table, would there only be found in the servant's 
quarters. Come, come, my lord," he added, clapping Peter 
on the shoulder, " it will do you good to live the simple 
life. Spartan fare, my lord, Spartan fare ! " 

Peter rolled his eyes and grinned again, before falling to, 
with a fairly good appetite, upon the rich food spread before 
him. 

" This lord must certainly be of enormous wealth," 
thought the King. " True, he has certain curious tricks of 
manner, such as supping his gravy with a table-knife, but 
what does a little thing like that matter ! In other countries, 
other ways ! That is a very good proverb." 

After dinner was over Reynard broached the matter of 
Peter's marriage with the King's daughter, and the King 
gave his consent. He begged Reynard and his friend to 
remain at the palace as his guests until the ceremony should 
take place, and apportioned to them a magnificent suite of 
rooms. A week later Peter and the Princess were married. 
The poor man could hardly believe his good luck as he stood 
before the altar dressed out in gorgeous robes. All he 
could do was to stare like one who is dazed, and Reynard had 
to nudge him from behind to get him to make the responses. 
After the wedding a splendid feast was held, to which all the 
greatest and wealthiest lords in the kingdom were invited, 
and then the King's carriages arrived to conduct the happy 
pair to Peter's castle. 

Now what was to be done ? Peter's castle was a broken- 
down hovel at the edge of the forest. He shivered with fear 
when he thought of what the Princess would say when she 
saw it, with its mud floor, and its furniture consisting of one 
chair with no back, one battered table, and a heap of brush- 
wood covered with a ragged pallet which served as a bed. 
Could Reynard overcome this difficulty as he had overcome 
all the others ? 

Of course he could, and he did ! Away went the coaches, 
with Reynard sitting proudly on the box of the foremost, and 
presently the whole cortege halted before the gates of an 

lOI 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

enchanted castle, which Reynard had borrowed from the 
fairies of the forest. There Lord Jaco Peter and his bride 
lived for many happy years. They had six children, three 
boys and three girls, and Reynard was the friend of 
them all. 





" Oh dear me, that's twice ! ' 




THE PEASANT AND HIS ASS 

HERE once lived a poor peasant. I do not know 
his name, but he earned a living by gathering 
dead wood in the forest, and he had a donkey who 
was no bigger ass than himself. Perhaps by this 
you will be able to recognize him. 
One day the peasant hitched his donkey into 
the shafts of his little cart and went off as usual to the wood 
for his day's toil. Arrived there, he tied the donkey to a 
tree and then, by way of the cart, climbed the trunk in order 
to break off some dead branches which he had noticed above. 
As he sat there, legs astraddle on the branch, busily breaking 
away the dead wood, along through the forest came a lord 
dressed in fine clothes, with his manservant behind him. 

" Hallo ! my man," cried the lord, " if you don't come 
down from that tree pretty soon you'll get a tumble. The 
branch you are sitting on is cracked." 

" Cracked, is it ? " answered the peasant. " Well, so 

103 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

much the worse for me." And he went on calmly with 
his work. 

The lord went away shrugging his shoulders at the peasant's 
stupidity ; and, sure enough, before he had gone very far, 
crack ! crack ! the branch broke, and down fell the peasant to 
the foot of the tree, giving himself a fine blow on the nose, 
which immediately swelled almost to the size of a turnip. 

" My word," muttered the peasant, tenderly feeling the 
sore place, " that man must have been a sorcerer ! He can 
foretell the future ! He said I'd fall and I certainly have fallen! 
I must run after him and ask him to tell me something else. 
This is a chance not to be missed ! " 

So off he ran as fast as his bruised limbs would allow, in 
pursuit of the lord, and presently came up with him. " Hi, 
sir, wait a minute ! " he cried. " You told me the truth 
about the tree. The branch broke right enough and I fell 
on my nose. Won't you tell me something else ? " 

" Willingly," answered the lord, " and I hope this time 
that you will pay heed to what I say. Take care not to load 
your ass too heavily, for if you do so he will bray, and if he 
brays three times running I predict that you will suddenly 
die." 

" Oh dear me ! " sighed the peasant. " I am the most 
unfortunate of men. Each prediction about my future seems 
to be an unhappy one. Nevertheless, I am very much 
obliged to you, sir. Good day." And he took off his cap 
to the lord and bowed, and lurched off back to his tree. 

For a long time he worked busily, and found so much 
wood that his little cart soon became full. Then he remem- 
bered what the lord had told him about loading his ass too 
heavily, but he was so avaricious that he could not make 
up his mind to stop. " One more branch won't make any 
difference," he kept on saying as he piled more and more 
wood into the cart. At last the poor donkey could stand 
no more and, lifting his head, he uttered a loud " Hee- 
haw ! " 

At this the peasant turned pale with fright. " Stop, stop, 
104 




' HALLO MY MAN," CRIED THE LORD 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

what are you doing ? " he cried. " Oh, my dear little ass, 
I beg you not to bray again. I will not put another branch 
into the cart. We will go home straight away and you shall 
have carrots for supper ! " 

So saying, he climbed to his seat and shook the reins as 
a signal for departure. The donkey pulled and pulled, but 
not an inch would the cart budge, although he strained his 
muscles to the utmost. Finding all his efforts vain, he turned 
his head and once again gave utterance to a loud bray of 
protest. 

" Oh, dear me, that's twice ! " cried the peasant, jumping 
down from his perch. " If he brays once more I'm a dead 
man. Do you hear that, little ass ? For goodness' sake, 
remain dumb until we reach home, and I'll help you pull the 
cart ! " Freed of the peasant's weight, the load for a time 
was easier to pull, but at the end of another ten minutes the 
weight began to tell again. The ass stopped and brayed 
loudly for the third time. 

" That's finished it ! " cried the peasant. " I am dead ! " 
And he fell flat to the ground. 

Left to himself, the ass wandered slowly on, dragging 
the load behind him. Soon he came to the gates of the 
town, and the guard took him and put him into the pound. 
After a time, as nobody claimed him, he was sold. 

Meanwhile the peasant lay where he had fallen. Presently 
a carriage drove up, and the coachman was forced to pull in 
his horses because of the body that lay stretched across the 
road. 

" Come," he cried, thinking that the peasant was drunk, 
" rouse yourself, swill-tub ! Get up, unless you want to be 
run over ! " 

" I can't get up ! " moaned the peasant. 

" Why not ? " 

" Because I'm dead ! " 

" Dead, are you ? " cried the coachman, jumping from 
his seat in anger. " Well I've something here that will bring 
you to life again ! " And he took his whip and laid on to the 
io6 



THE PEASANT AND HIS ASS 

peasant with such a will that in less than ten seconds the 
fellow was capering about all over the road. Having thus 
effectively brought the dead man to life, he remounted his 
box and drove off grumbling. 

In the roadway the peasant continued to dance about until 
the pain of his beating had somewhat subsided. Then he 
looked around, and for 
the first time missed his 
donkey, 

" Dear, dear, dear ! " 
he cried, " one trouble 
after another ! When I 
was dead I wished I was 
alive ; now I'm alive I 
wish I was dead again, 
for I'm sore all over, and 
I've lost my donkey. 
Whatever shall I do ? " 
And, groaning and grum- 
bling, he set off along the 
road in search of his 



beast. 

After a time he came 




" I can't get up, because I'm dead 1' 



to the gates of the town, where a sentry was standing with 
his pike on his shoulder. " Good morning, good man," said 
the peasant. " Have you seen my little ass ? " 

" Your ass ! " answered the sentry, smiUng. " The only 
ass that has passed through these gates to-day is already 
become burgomaster ! " 

" What ! Burgomaster ! " cried the peasant. " My ass 
Burgomaster ! Tell me quickly, where does he live ? I must 
go to him at once ! " 

Hardly able to control his amusement, the sentry pointed 
out the way to the Burgomaster's house, and thither went 
the peasant in all haste. Arrived at the door, he sounded 
the great bell — Darlindindin ! — and a maidservant appeared. 

" Is the Burgomaster at home ? " asked the peasant. Yes, 

107 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

he was at home, and the maidservant led the peasant to the 
room where he sat behind a big table loaded with documents. 

" Good morning, Ass ! " said the peasant, with a grin of 
delight that twisted his swollen and discoloured features. 

" Eh ! what, what ! " stammered the Burgomaster, turning 
purple with anger. 

" I beg your pardon," said the peasant, " I should have 
said, ' Good morning, Mr. Ass, Esquire,' for you have become 
a great man now, while I am still a poor woodcutter. I 
don't envy you your good fortune, I am sure, although your 
promotion has left me without a donkey. Since you have 
become such a great lord, won't you give me back the ten 
florins you cost me, so that I may buy another ? " 

At this the Burgomaster's rage exploded. Leaping over 
the table with one bound, he seized the hapless peasant by 
the collar of his coat, threw open the door, and, with one 
mighty kick, sent him sprawling from top to bottom of the 
stairs. 





The Eagle and the Kinglet 




THE KING OF THE BIRDS 

T one time the birds, like the four-footed 
animals, were ruled over by the lion, who is 
the King of the Beasts, but they grew dis- 
contented with his dominion and decided to 
have a king of their own. It was the eagle's 
idea : he thought of it one day when he was 
standing on the lofty crag by his nest, gazing out upon the 
plain below, and he saw the lion, no bigger than a mouse 
in appearance, slinking beside a dried-up stream. " Earth- 
bound creature ! " thought the eagle scornfully. " Who are 
you to reign over us, who cleave the air with wings and 
fly in the face of the sun ! He who is lordliest among 
the birds should rule the feathered creatures, and surely I 
am he!" 

So thinking, the eagle spread his wings and soared high 
into the air, and then swooped suddenly down upon the 
lion, casting sand into his eyes with a harsh scream of defiance. 

109 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Having thus relieved his feelings, he sent messengers near 
and far to assemble all the birds that he might unfold his 
plan to them. 

Such a scurry of wings as there was when the birds 
came to answer the summons ! The sky was black with 
them, so that the animals on the earth below, fearing a 
dreadful storm, took shelter in their caves and holes. From 
north, south, east, and west they came ; over mountain, 
valley, and plain ; birds of all sorts and sizes, from the 
little humming-bird to the condor and the vulture. The 
ostrich left the burning plains where he loves to roam, and 
flapping his ridiculous wing, for he could not fly, raced to 
the meeting-place. All those birds that dwell in the tropical 
forests, and flash from tree to tree like living jewels in the 
green twilight ; the penguins and skua-gulls from the icy 
north ; the cormorants and shags, and all the hosts of the 
birds of the sea — if I were to go on naming them I should 
fill every page of this book and never even begin my story. 
And as they flew each uttered his own cry, so that what 
with the calling and the screaming, the whistling, warbling, 
chirping, and chattering, the air was filled with a mighty sound 
that echoed to the very ends of the world. 

When all the birds were duly assembled the eagle addressed 
them thus : " Listen, brothers," said he, " I have called 
you together in order that we may choose a king, for it is 
not fitting that the lion, that earth-bound creature, should 
continue to reign over the free company of the birds. We 
are distinguished from the beasts by our power of flight, and 
it therefore seems to me that the crown of sovereignty should 
be given to the one amongst us who possesses that power in 
the fullest degree. What do you say ? Shall we test this 
matter, and let him who can fly nearest to the sun be king ? " 

A confused chorus of cries answered his question, one 
bird speaking against another. 

" What is flight compared to song } " asked the nightingale. 
" Let the sweetest singer among us reign." 

The canary and the throstle and the blackcap all agreed 
with the nightingale, but they were shouted down, 
no 



THE KING OF THE BIRDS 



" Beauty, beauty ! " 
cried the peacock. 
" That is the test ! A 
king should be re- 
splendent in gay 
robes ! " And he 
spread his gorgeous 
tail. 

" Aye, there speaks 
wisdom," gobbled the 
turkey, turning red in 
the face, and strutting 
up and down. " What 
do you say, brother," 
he asked the cock. 
" Shall we arrange it 
so r 

"A fig for gay 
feathers ! " cackled the 
ostrich. " Is our king 
then only to be looked 
at, or is he to do 
nothing all day but 
chirp and twitter fooUsh 
songs ? As for flying, 
I found my wings of 
so little use that I gave 
up using them long 
ago. My idea is that 
we should settle this 
matter by a running 
race ! " 

And so the birds 
went on quarrelling 
and disputing until at 
last the eagle called for 
silence, and, address- 
ing the company again, 




IS OUR KING THEN ONLY TO' BE LOOKED AT ? " 

III 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

insisted upon the adoption of his own plan. He spoke 
sternly and menacingly, and as all the birds went in fear of 
his curved beak and sharp talons, no further objections were 
raised. 

It was agreed that the trial should take place at once, 
and the cock was chosen to give the signal for the start. 
Very proud of the honour, he stationed himself on a little 
grassy knoll, and having ascertained that everybody was 
ready, gave a loud and clarion call. There was the sound 
as of a rushing mighty wind as all the birds sprang into the 
air. Only the eagle remained in his place, looking after 
the others a lit'tle contemptuously. So confident did he 
feel in his ability to outfly them all, that he allowed them 
at least five minutes start. Then, very leisurely, he spread 
his wings and soared. Up, up, up he went ; he overtook 
the stragglers on the fringe of the crowd, passed through the 
thickest press, outdistanced the foremost flyer of them all. 
Still up and up he soared, exalting in his strength and power, 
until the birds flying far below were hidden by the clouds. 
Then he hung for a moment, motionless on extended wings, 
for he was a little wearied by his efforts. 

All of a sudden he heard, above his head, a tiny tzvit, 
tzvit, tzvit, and looking up, saw, to his surprise, the golden- 
crested wren, one of the smallest of the birds, flying merrily 
above him. 

" I have outdistanced you. I am king ! I am king ! " 
cried the wren in his joy. 

" We will see," said the eagle grimly ; and once again 
he beat his mighty wings and soared. 

At the end of a further five minutes, he stopped again, 
only to hear, as before, the wren's cheerful twitter above 
him. Again and again the same thing happened. Try as 
he might, the eagle could not outdistance the tiny bird, and 
at last, worn out with his exertions, he was obliged to give 
up the contest, and to descend, crestfallen, to the earth 
again. 

And how did the little wren, which is certainly not famed 

112 



BIRDS GOING TO THE RACE 



THE KING OF THE BIRDS 

for its powers of flight, come to be able to defeat the mighty 
eagle ? By a very simple trick ! When the eagle started 
on its flight the wren was safely perched upon his back. 
There he clung until the eagle stopped flying, when it was 
an easy matter to rise from his place and fly a yard or two 
higher. When the eagle began to fly again, the wren again 




There was the Sound as of a rushing mighty Wind 

took its place on his back, and this continued time after 
time until the great bird was exhausted. 

Although nobody suspected the trick which the wren had 
played, the other birds were very indignant when they heard 
the wren declare that he had won the contest. " You, 
king ! " they cried. " An insignificant thing like you ! It 
would be a disgrace to us if we were to suffer it. We would 
rather be ruled by the Hon ! At any rate, he had majesty 
of deportment and dignity. You have neither grace nor 
wisdom, strength nor beauty. Away with you before we 
tear you to pieces ! " 

The wren was as perky as you please, and for only answer 
he flew to the boughs of a tree, whence he looked down 

H 113 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

on them all with his head on one side, chirping, " I am king ! 
I am king. Bow down and make obeisance ! " 

A great cry of anger arose. " Kill him ! Kill him ! " 
screamed the hawk, " Tear him to pieces ! " 

" You will have to catch him first ! " twittered the wren, 
and as the hawk made a rush at him, he popped into a hole 
in the trunk of a tree — a hole so small that nobody could 
get at him. From the shelter of that safe retreat he con- 
tinued to gibe at the birds, issuing comimands, and asserting 
that he was their king. 

What was to be done ? Nobody could get at the wren, 
and yet all the birds felt that he should be punished for his 
impudence. A consultation was held, and it was finally 
decided to set the owl as a guard at the mouth of his hole. 
" Sooner or later," said the eagle, " he will have to come 
out in order to get food, and then we will have him. If, 
however, he elects to stay where he is, let him ; either way 
our purpose will be served." 

So the owl mounted guard by the hole in the trunk of 
the tree, and having given him the most careful instructions 
not on any account to let the wren escape, the other birds 
flew away. All that day the owl remained vigilant at his 
post, and though the wren put his head out of the hole a 
hundred times, he always found his guard keeping careful 
watch. Night fell, and a great silence fell upon the woods, 
but still the owl kept awake for hour after hour, watching 
with unwinking eyes. At last, towards morning, his vigilance 
relaxed a Httle. His head sank forward on his breast ; and 
he fell fast asleep. Hardly had his eyes closed than, rip ! 
the wren darted out of his hole, and the next moment he 
had vanished among the trees. 

When the birds returned the next morning they were 
furious to find that their prisoner had escaped. " Unfaithful 
servant," they cried, " you have betrayed your trust ! " 
And they fell upon the owl to put him to death. With some 
difficulty he managed to escape, but ever since that time 
the birds chase the owl wherever they see him, for they are 
114 



THE KING OF THE BIRDS 

still angry with him. To keep out of their way he has to 
hide during the day and venture out only at night, when all 
the other birds are fast asleep. 

As for the golden-crested wren, he is known as the 
Kinglet, or little king, to this day. 





J ft. 



DONATUS 




A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

CERTAIN regiment had for its drummer an old 
man named Donatus. He was a good-for- 
nothing rascal, who spent most of his time in 
the tavern drinking and playing cards, but he 
was an excellent drummer for all that, and it 
was a fine sight to see him on parade days, 
marching along with the band, and playing on his drum 
with a flourish that was the envy of all the boys in 
the town. None of his companions in the regiment liked 
Donatus, because of his fondness for playing practical jokes. 
There was hardly one of them whom at some time or another 
he had not hoaxed, and as most of his jokes were spiteful 
ones, nobody pretended to be sorry when one day the 
drummer was found cheating at cards, and being brought 
before the Captain, was dismissed from the regiment. It was 
in vain that he pleaded for mercy, with the tears running 
down his face. The Captain had forgiven him many times, 
and was determined not to do so again. 
ii6 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

" Well," said Donatus at last, " if I must go, I beg you, 
Captain, to let me keep my drum. I have played on it since 
I was a lad of fourteen, and I know no other trade. If you 
take it away from me, I don't know how I am going to live, 
but with it I may perhaps manage to turn an honest peimy 
or two." 

" Very well, you old scoundrel," answered the Captain. 
" Keep your drum and take yourself off ; only be quick 
about it, or you shall be soundly thrashed." 

So away went Donatus with his drum on his back, and 
not having any particular place to go to, he just took the first 
road that came, and marched along it all day until he was 
forced to rest because his legs were so tired. Setting his 
drum down in the middle of the road he sat upon it and began 
to wonder what he should do for food and a bed for the night. 
First of all he turned out his pockets to see what he could 
find, but there was nothing there except two sous and a pack 
of very greasy playing cards. Donatus put them back again, 
with a sigh, and fell again to wondering how he was going 
to fare. 

Now the road along which he had been walking was 
bordered by a dense forest, and suddenly Donatus thought 
that if he were to get among the trees he could at least find 
shelter. So he shouldered his drum again and entered the 
wood. Hardly had he done so than he heard a loud hum- 
ming noise, and proceeding in the direction from which 
it came, he saw a swarm of bees hanging to the branch of 
a big tree. 

" Here's fine fruit ! " said he to himself, laughing. "I'll 
pluck them. They may come in useful one of these days ! " 
So he took off the top skin of his drum, and having skilfully 
caused the swarm to drop inside the instrument, replaced 
the skin and went on his way. 

Presently he came to a little house in the wood, and 
knocked at the door to ask for shelter for the night. The 
door was opened by a peasant woman of comely appearance, 
but with a very disagreeable expression of face. She looked 

117 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

the drummer up and down very sourly. " Be off with you ! " 
she said, " we want no soldiers here. We have seen your 
kind before, my man, and do not like them." And so saying, 
she very rudely shut the door in his face. 

" Now what am I to do ? " thought Donatus ruefully. 
" Night has fallen, and I am too weary to wander any farther. 
A plague take that hard-hearted vixen, who will not take pity 
on my misfortunes ! " 

Thus reflecting, he cast his eye about to look for a comer 
in which he might rest, and suddenly spied a heap of faggots 
piled up against the cottage wall. Climbing to the top of the 
heap, he found that it was possible to reach the window of the 
attic, which fortunately stood open, so he lost no time in 
crawling inside, where he stretched himself out upon the 
planks to sleep. 

Now the attic happened to be directly above the kitchen, 
and as there was a knot-hole in the wooden floor, the 
drummer could see everything that was going on in the room 
below. There was the peasant-woman busily preparing the 
supper, and the fragrant fumes which rose from the viands 
tickled the drummer's nose, and made the water run out of 
the comers of his mouth. 

After a time there was a loud knock at the house door, 
and the woman hurried to open it, admitting a man dressed 
in a long cloak. He was the village beadle, and a nephew 
of the woman's husband, but that good man had such a 
hatred of beadles that he could not bear to look at one, and 
his nephew never dared to come to the house while the 
husband was at home. His visits therefore were few and far 
between, but when he did come his aunt always feasted him 
right royally. This time she bade him welcome with great 
tenderness, helped him off with his cloak and sat him down at 
the table, upon which she placed a fine roast fowl, with a 
gammon of bacon and a bottle of wine. 

" Ha, ha ! " cried the beadle, rubbing his hands. " You 
are a famous hostess, aunt ! My walk has given me an appe- 
tite, and I am just in a condition to do justice to your good 
ii8 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

victuals. Here's health ! " And he filled a glass with wine 
and drained it to the dregs. 

" Gr-r, you greedy fellow ! " muttered the drummer, who 
was lying full length in the attic above with his eye to the 




There was a Knot-hole in the wooden Floor 

knot-hole. " I hope it may choke you ! " And he watched 
eagerly while the beadle began to fall to upon the roast fowl. 

Suddenly the feast was interrupted by another loud knock 
at the door. 

" My husband ! " cried the woman in great agitation. 

119 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" He has come back unexpectedly. If he finds you here, 
something terrible will happen, for he cannot bear the sight 
of a beadle. Quick ! jump into this chest and pull down the 
lid, while I clear away all signs of the supper ! " 

The beadle, who was just as frightened as his hostess, 
lost no time in doing as she bade him. He hopped into the 
chest and pulled down the lid, while she hurried to clear the 
table. All this time the husband was thundering at the door, 
very impatient at being kept waiting. When at last his wife 
let him in, he flew into a temper and began to scold her. 

" I am very sorry, good man," she answered, " but I did 
not hear you knock, I was hard at work in the scullery." 

" Bring me something to eat ! " growled the man. 

" Just as you like," answered his wife. " But if I were 
you I would not sup so late — you know how it always gives 
you indigestion. Wouldn't it be better to go straight to 
bed ? " 

" Hold your peace, woman," said her spouse. " I am 
not sleepy ! " And he sat himself down at the table. 

Hardly had he done so than there came a loud knocking 
on the floor of the attic above his head. 

" What is that ? " he cried, jumping up. "Is there 
somebody in the attic ? " 

" Not that I know of," answered his wife. " Nobody 
has been here all day except a soldier with a most villainous 
face, who came begging. I sent him away with a flea in his 
ear, I assure you." 

" Did you so ? " said her husband. " Well, I believe he 
has managed to get into the attic. I remember now that I 
forgot to fasten the window." Off he went upstairs to see, 
and sure enough, there was the drummer, who was not slow 
in explaining his presence. 

" Well, come along downstairs and warm yourself," said 
the peasant. " My wife is just about to get my supper, and 
I expect there will be enough for two." 

Nothing loath, the drummer accompanied his host to the 
kitchen, and sat down at the table, paying no heed to the 

120 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

venomous glances which the woman of the house cast at him as 
she slammed down a loaf of black bread and a bowl of milk. 
" Ho, ho," said the drummer to himself. " There is 




" I DID NOT HEAR YOU KNOCK " 



fowl for the beadle and dry bread for the good man and his 
guest. Well, we shall see ! " And he gave a kick with his 
foot to the drum which was under the table. 

" What have you there ? " asked the peasant, starting up 
at the sound. 

121 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

*' Oh, that is my oracle," answered the drummer coolly. 

** Your oracle ! Does he, then, speak to you ? " 

" Certainly," answered the drummer. " He speaks to 
me three times a day." 

" Faith," said the peasant, " I should very much like to 
hear him." 

So the drummer picked up his drumsticks and beat a 
lively tattoo upon the drum, and, aroused by the noise and 
vibration, the swarm of bees within began to buzz about in 
great commotion. 

" Wonderful ! Wonderful ! " cried the peasant de- 
lightedly, as he listened to the humming. " And do you 
really understand that language ? What does the oracle say ? " 

" He says," answered the peasant, " that there is no need 
for us to drink sour milk, because there is a bottle of wine 
standing by the wall, just behind the big chest." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! that is a good joke ! " roared the peasant. 
" Wine in my house, indeed ! I only wish it were true ! " 

" Tell your wife to look behind the chest, and I'll warrant 
you she will find it." 

Very unwiUingly the dame went to the place indicated, 
and came back with the bottle of wine. She tried to look as 
surprised as her husband, but only succeeded in pulling a 
very wry mouth. 

" Bring glasses, wife ! " cried the peasant in great good 
humour. " We must drink the health of this famous oracle. 
Do you think you can make him speak again, friend ? " 

" Certainly," said the drummer, beating another tattoo 
upon the drum. Once again the bees began to hum loudly, 
and he leant down, pretending to listen to what they had to 
say. 

" Well ? Well ? " cried the peasant impatiently. 

" He says that if your wife will look in the cupboard, she 
will find a roast fowl and a gammon of bacon, which we can 
eat instead of this dry bread." 

" Upon my word, that is a wonderful oracle ! " cried the 
peasant. " Make haste, wife, and look in the cupboard." 

122 




THE SWARM OF BEES WITHIN BEGAN TO BUZZ ABOUT IN 
GREAT COMMOTION 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

The dame could not refuse to obey, so she brought the 
good things and set them on the table, but if looks could have 
killed anybody the drummer would have been a dead man 
that day. Little heed he paid to her evil glances, however, 
but applied himself to the food with a good appetite. Before 

very long, between 
the two of them, 
there was nothing 
left of the chicken 
but the bones, and 
of the gammon but 
the scrag-end. 

" Faith," said the 
peasant, unbuttoning 
his waistcoat, " that 
was a better meal 
than I expected to 
get this night. Has 
your oracle any more 
agreeable surprises 
for us, good sir. I 
pray you, make him 
speak again." 

" With all the will 
in the world," an- 
swered the drummer, 
" but this will be the 
last occasion, for he only speaks three times a day." Taking 
up his sticks, he played the war-march of Napoleon on the 
drum, and the bees accompanied him as before with their 
loud humming. The peasant leaned forward eagerly to listen, 
while his wife stood by trembling with fear. 

" Ah," said the drummer at last, looking at them both 
with a grave face. " This time my oracle tells me of a very 
serious matter. He says that in the big chest over there a 
big black demon is hidden ! " 

" What ! What ! " cried the peasant, jumping up from his 
124 




BEATING ANOTHER TATTOO UPON THE DRUM 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

chair as though he had been stung. " A demon, did you 
say ? " 

" Precisely," answered the drummer. " But don't be 




The Beadle, too, stumbled and fell 

alarmed. I will get rid of him for you. Open the door and 
the windows and then place yourself here, by my side," 

The peasant made haste to do what he was told, and 
marching boldly up to the chest, the drummer seized the 
heavy lid and threw it open. Immediately the beadle, who 
had heard everything and was not a little afraid of his own 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

skin, jumped up, his figure entirely covered with the folds of 
his black mantle, and ran for the door. So sudden was his 
appearance, and so hasty his flight, that he ran with full force 
into the peasant, who had no time to get out of his way, 
and knocked that worthy man flying head over heels. The 
beadle, too, stumbled and fell, but quickly recovering him- 
self, made blindly for the door, fell over the folds of his cloak, 
and tumbled head foremost into the ditch by the side of the 
road. There was a sudden splashing sound, a muffled mur- 
mur, and then silence. 

" Poof ! " said the peasant, when he had picked himself 
up and rubbed his limbs. " That was a narrow escape ! 
I saw the demon quite plainly — he was all black, with fiery 
eyes, and a forked tail ! Thank heaven that your oracle 
warned us, good sir, or he would have devoured us as we 
slept 1 " 

The next morning, as the drummer and the peasant sat 
at breakfast, the latter said : 

" Will you sell me that oracle of yours, drummer ? " 

" That depends," answered his guest. " You know it 
is worth a great deal of money." 

" I will give you a hundred crowns," said the peasant, 
" and that is all I have in the world." 

" Very well," said the drummer. " It is little enough for 
such a wonderful oracle as this is, but I have taken a fancy 
to you, and I cannot refuse. Give me the money." So the 
bargain was concluded. Donatus received the hundred 
crowns, and in return handed over the drum. Then he bade 
farewell to his host and was just going out of the door when 
the latter called after him : " Stay a moment — I have just 
thought of something. How am I to understand the language 
which the oracle speaks } " 

" Oh, that is easy enough," answered Donatus. " Listen 
while I tell you what to do. At ten o'clock, precisely, not a 
minute before or a minute afterwards, go and plant your 
wife in the ground up to her armpits, then smear her face and 
shoulders with honey. That done, take the oracle with you 
126 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

into the attic where you found me, and having first bandaged 
your eyes, remove the top skin of the drum. Wait for a 
quarter of an hour ; then replace the skin, and take the 
drum with you to the place where you left your wife. In 
that very moment the meaning of the oracle's language will 
be revealed to you, and you 
will know as much as I 
know myself ! " 

" Many thanks ! " cried 
the peasant delightedly. 
" Good day to you, soldier, 
and good luck ! " 

" And to you ! " an- 
swered the drummer, and 
he went away laughing up 
his sleeve at the fellow's 
simplicity. 

About a mile farther 
along the road he saw a man 
working in the fields, and 
went up to him. 

" If you like, gossip," 
said he, " I'll do a bit of 
that digging for you." 

"With all my heart," 
answered the labourer, 
giving up his spade. 

" Very well, but let us 
change clothes, for I do not 
wish to soil my uniform. 
Here is a crown for you. Go to the inn and buy yourself 
a glass of wine. When you return you will be surprised 
to see how much I have done." 

The exchange was made and the labourer departed. Less 
than half an hour afterwards the sound of hoofs was heard 
on the road, and looking up, the drummer saw his late host, 
mounted on horseback, spurring furiously towards him. The 

127 




HE HAD FAITHFULLY CARRIED OUT ALL 
HIS INSTRUCTIONS 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

man's face was purple with fury and he was muttering threats 
as to what he would do to the drummer when he caught him. 
He had faithfully carried out all his instructions, and had 
truly enough learnt the meaning of the humming noise 
within the drum. So had his wife ; for when he went to her 

in the garden, he found her 
with her face and shoulders 
black with bees ! 

Abreast of the place 
where the drummer was 
working the peasant reined 
in his horse, and cried out, 
" Hallo, you there. Have 
you seen a soldier pass by 
this way ? " 

" A man, master ? " 
mumbled the drummer. 

" I said a soldier, you 
stupid oaf ! A man in a 
red coat with a most villain- 
ous face. Have you seen 
him, I say ? " 

" Why, yes," the drum- 
mer answered. " He went 
past here about a quarter of 
an hour ago, and made his 
way into the wood yonder. 
You'll never find him, mas- 
ter ! " he added, with a 
grin. 

" And why won't I ? " 

" Because he's gone by a secret way. I saw the road he 
took, and I know how he means to go, but even if I were to 
show you the way, you would never overtake him, for you 
would lose yourself in the wood." 

" I'll give you a crown if you'll help me to find the rascal," 
cried the peasant. 
128 




it was the labourer dressed in the 
drummer's clothes 



A DRUM FULL OF BEES 

" A crown ! Come now, that's high pay. You must 
want him very badly ! " 

" I do indeed, and I'll break every bone in his body when 
I catch him." 

" Here, lend me your horse, master," said the drummer. 
" I'll catch him for you, and not for a crown neither, but for 
nothing. I'd like to see him get a good thrashing, for he 
called me names as he passed by." 

" But can you ride ? " asked the peasant. 

" Can a duck swim ? " answered the drummer scornfully. 
*' Dismount quickly or the scoundrel will get away. Wait 
here for me," he added, as he rode off, " I'll be back in less 
than half an hour." Off he went at a gallop, smiling to him- 
self. " First of all a hundred crowns, and now a fine steed," 
thought he. " Come Donatus, your luck is standing you 
in good stead. It's odds but you'll win through yet ! " He 
reached the wood, entered it, and the peasant waiting by the 
roadside, heard the sound of his horse's hoofs grow fainter 
and fainter until at last they died away. 

A quarter of an hour passed, half an hour, an hour, but 
the labourer did not return. The peasant, fuming with 
impatience, strode up and down the road, slashing at the 
grass and bushes with his stick. Suddenly he heard foot- 
steps, and saw a man in a red coat approaching It was the 
labourer dressed in the drummer's clothes, who had drunk, 
not one, but several glasses of wine, and was now returning 
very pleased with himself and all the world. As he came he 
trilled out a merry song. 

" You knave ! You villain ! " cried the peasant, throwing 
himself upon him. " Where are my hundred crowns ? 
What ! you would teach me the language of the bees, would 
you ? — and my poor wife is stung all over, and cannot see 
out of her eyes. Rascal ! Scoundrel ! Oh, you scum ! Take 
that, and that, and that ! " And with each word, he lifted 
his heavy stick and brought it down heavily upon the 
shoulders of the unfortunate labourer. 

" Here, hold hard, master ! " cried the man, twisting and 

I 129 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

turning to get away. " What's the meaning of this ? I'll 
have the law on you if you don't leave me alone ! Ouch, 
give over I tell you ! What do I know about your hundred 
crowns or your wife ? " 

" What ! " cried the peasant, laying on harder than before. 
" Do you add lying to your other crimes ? You will tell me 
next you have never seen a drum ! " And with one last 
mighty cut he stretched the unfortunate fellow at his feet. 
Then, for the first time, he had a full view of his face, and 
saw that he was not the man he took him for. 

" Was there ever such an unlucky man in all the world 
as I ? " he moaned, as he turned wearily homeward, pursued 
by the curses and threats of the man he had beaten. " First 
I lose a hundred crowns, and then the love of my wife, who 
will never forgive me her injuries ; and now, into the bargain, 
I have lost my horse ! God forgive that drummer, and pro- 
tect him if ever he falls into my hands ! " 

I wish I could tell you that the unlucky peasant's desire 
was fulfilled, and that the drummer met with his deserts. 
Unhappily my story ends here, and I do not know for certain 
what happened to him, but people do say that he never 
came out of the wood, but rode straight into a marsh and was 
drowned. If this is true, I am sure that nobody will be sorry ! 





When the fifty Rooks began to fly he could not get Free 




THE DRUNKEN ROOKS 

T was the middle of winter and the ground was 
covered with snow. Along the high road came 
Mynheer Van Ash, the well-known merchant of 
Alost, driving to the town with two immense casks 
of the liquor known as Hollands, in which he traded. 
All unknown to the merchant, one of the casks had 
a hole in it, and as he drove along the liquor leaked out, and 
sank into the snow. 

In a field close by the roadside were a flock of fifty rooks, 
who were eagerly turning up the snow and pecking at the 
ground beneath in search of food. Attracted by the strong 
and heady smell of the spilt liquor, they flew across to in- 
vestigate, and having tasted some of the gin-sodden snow, 
liked it so well that they followed in the train of the cart, 
eating more and more of it, until at last they were so drunk 

131 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

that they could hardly stand on their feet. Away they went 
to the fields again, and very soon afterwards the whole flock 
of them was fast asleep. 

Presently, Little Pol, a peasant who worked in the neigh- 
bourhood, happened to cross the field on his way homeward, 
and saw the crows lying stiif and silent on the snow. 

"Ah!" said he to himself. "Here is a funny sight! 
Fifty crows frozen to death with the cold. " I'll take them 
home with me and pluck them. Rook-pie is excellent eating, 
and such a find is welcome these hard times ! " So, taking a 
cord from his pocket, he set to work to gather up all the 
rooks, and tie them together by the legs. This done, he 
proceeded on his way, dragging the rooks behind him. 

The roughness of the motion and the friction of the 
snow very soon aroused the rooks from their slumber. They 
all woke up, and finding their legs tied, began to flap their 
wings together with admirable precision. Unfortunately for 
Little Pol, he had taken the precaution of fastening the 
cord to the belt round his middle, so when the fifty rooks 
began to fly he could not get free, and found himself being 
lifted into the air. 

Up went the fifty rooks cawing and crying, and up too went 
Little Pol, calUng in vain for help. They reached the clouds ; 
they penetrated the clouds ; they disappeared from sight. 

And since that day not a sign has ever been seen either 
of the fifty rooks or of Little Pol. 




THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS AND BEASTS 




Fighting 




THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS 
AND BEASTS 

NE day as Bruin the Bear and Isengrim the Wolf 
were taking a walk in the woods they came to a 
big elm-tree with a hollow trunk. Peering 
within in the hope of finding something to eat 
they espied a little nest supported by two 
notches in the bark. It was the tiniest and 
neatest little house one could wish to see, made of fresh green 
moss, with a small opening in the middle for a door, and was, 
in fact, the home of a little bird called the Golden-crested 
Wren. Now among the country people the golden-crested 
wren is often known by the name of the Kinglet, and being 
aware of this, Isengrim saw a chance of playing a joke upon 
his companion. " Look at this nest. Bruin," said he. 
" What would you say if I told you it was a King's palace ? " 
" That a King's palace ! " laughed Bruin scornfully. 

133 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" A handful of moss in a hole ! Why, with one tap of my 
paw I could smash it to fragments ! " 

" I should not advise you to do any such thing," said 
Isengrim. " The King who lives in that palace is much more 
powerful than you think, and unless you are looking for 
trouble it would be best to leave his home alone." 

" What ! " cried Bruin, in a rage. " Am I to be defied by 
a miserable little fowl in my own forest ? That for your 
King ! " And with one sweep of his paw, he reduced the 
nest to a shapeless heap of moss. " Now let him revenge 
himself if he can," he roared. " I hereby declare war upon 
him and upon all his tribe. Fur against feather ! The four- 
legged animals against those that go on wings. We will 
put this matter to the test ! " 

When the Kinglet came home and found his nest destroyed 
he danced and chattered vnth anger. Isengrim lost no time 
in letting him know who was responsible for the mischief, 
and took a spiteful joy in telling him of the Bear's challenge. 

" Very well," said the little wren. " Kinglet is my name, 
and King shall be my nature. I will call all the winged 
creatures together and we will settle the matter by the test of 
arms." 

During the next two or three weeks there was a great 
coming and going in the forest as the two armies assembled. 
The air was full of the whirl and rustle of wings. From the 
nests under sunny banks came the wasps in thousands, each 
with his shining cuirass of black and yellow, and his deadly 
sting. The gadfly came too, and the tiny gnat, and 
the mosquito from the stagnant pools, with insects of every 
other sort and kind — more than one could count in a day. 
From his eyrie on the mountain crags the lordly eagle came 
swooping to take his place beside the nightingale and the 
sparrow. In that hour of need all rivalries were forgotten ; 
the falcon and the hawk took their place in the ranks with the 
thrush and the robin. 

The Bear, on his side, was not idle. Swift-footed 
messengers were sent to every part of the land to summon 
134 



BATTLE OF THE BIRDS AND BEASTS 

the four-legged animals to arms. Slinking through the under- 
growth came Isengrim's kin, the grey wolves, with lean flanks 
and fierce eyes shining. Reynard brought his troop of foxes. 




The Kinglet warned him to be very careful not to buzz 

Crashing through the trees came'Tthe mighty elephants, 
waving their trunks and trumpeting defiance to the foe. Out 
of the mud of river-beds, from the grassy plains, and the 
densest thickets of the forest, the animals came flocking — 
lions, tigers, camels, bulls, horses — if I were to name them 

135 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

all I should fill this book with their names. Never had so 
many animals been brought together since the days of Noah's 
Ark 

When everything was ready, the Kinglet, who was a 
prudent leader, sent out a spy to try to gain information 
about the enemy's plans. For this purpose he chose the 
mosquito, who, as you may imagine, was neither easily seen 
nor easily caught, particularly as the Kinglet warned him to 
be very careful not to buzz. Under cover of the darkness he 
flew to the Bear's camp, and succeeded in discovering the 
headquarters of the general staff, where the leaders of the 
animal army were conferring. Just as the mosquito arrived, 
the Bear and the Fox were speaking together. 

"So it is settled," the Bear was saying. " Our great 
offensive will begin to-morrow. Each of you knows what to 
do, I think ? We have discussed everything, and nothing 
remains to do, but to press forward to a glorious victory." 

** You are right, my lord," said Reynard, " but there is 
just one thing you have forgotten. How are we to know 
when the victory is won ? We must have a standard- 
bearer." 

" Of course," answered the Bear, " we must have a 
standard-bearer. I was just going to say so. Who shall it 
be?" 

" With all respect, my lord," answered Reynard, " I 
propose that it should be L My beautiful bushy tail will 
serve as a battle-flag. I will walk at the head of the army and 
hold my tail straight up in the air, as stiff as a poker. So 
long as I keep it like that, you will know that all is well ; but 
if anything disastrous should happen, I will let it droop to 
the ground, so that our troops may have ample warning to 
take refuge in flight." 

" Excellent," said Bruin. " You have heard what Rey- 
nard proposes. Take notice that I hereby appoint him 
standard-bearer to our armies." 

So it was agreed, and having learnt all that he wished to 
know, the mosquito flew back to the Kinglet with his news. 
136 




j2)o?'icJ^ 



THE GREAT OFFENSIVE BEGAN 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

The Kinglet said nothing, but sent for the wasp, and gave 
him certain orders. 

At dawn the next morning the great offensive began, and 
from the very beginning things went rather badly for the 
armies of the winged animals. At two points of the line 
the Bear and the Tiger led dashing attacks against divisions 
commanded by the eagle and the hawk, and after long and 
fierce fighting, forced them to retire. High upon a knoll 
commanding the battlefield, in full view of the troops, stood 
the Fox, with his bushy tail held proudly in the air. As he 
watched the struggle his lips curled in a grin of triumph. 

Suddenly there was a piercing yell that rang out clear 
above the noise of battle. It came from the Fox, who drooped 
his tail to the ground, and ran, howling with pain, to the rear. 

" We are lost i We are lost ! " cried the animals, seeing 
the standard lowered. " Traitors are amongst us ! Fly 
for your lives ! " From point to point of the swaying battle- 
line the panic spread, throwing the army into hopeless con- 
fusion. Before long the whole of the Bear's troops were in 
retreat, and the victorious army of the winged-creatures 
swept on and over them. 

Late that night Bruin the Bear and Isengrim the Wolf, 
both of them very bedraggled and wearied with much 
running, sat together gloomily in a distant part of the wood. 
Presently they saw Reynard the Fox limping towards them, 
and immediately they rose and began to heap reproaches 
upon him. 

" Traitor ! " said Bruin. " Why did you lower the 
standard ? In another hour we should have won." 

The Fox looked at them sulkily. " Why did I lower the 
standard ? " said he. " Because a wasp came and stung me 
right at the root of my tail ! " 




The Cat rushed out of the Room 




THE END OF THE WORLD 

1\ NCE upon a time an old woman sat spinning in 
a room at the top of a high tower. Beneath 
her chair Chaton, her cat, lay peacefully sleep- 
ing. All of a sudden the spinning-wheel jarred 
and made a loud creaking sound. Startled 
out of his sleep, Chaton the Cat rushed out of 
the room and bolted down the stairs as though a thousand 
demons were at his heels. 

In the yard he passed the house-dog who was sitting in 
front of his kennel. " Hallo, Chaton ! " cried the dog. 
" Where are you going to in such a hurry ? " 

" I am fleeing the country," answered Chaton. " I have 
just heard the sounding of the last trump ! The end of 
the world is at hand ! " 

" If that is so," said the dog, " I would like to run away 
too. May I come with you ? " 

139 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" Certainly," answered Chaton. " Seat yourself on my 
beautiful curly tail." So the dog perched himself on the 
cat's tail, and off they went together. 

A little farther on they came to the farm-gate, and there, 
perched on the topmost rail, was the cock. 

" Whither away, Chaton ? " asked the cock. " You seem 
to be in haste." 

" Yes," said Chaton. " I have heard the last trump, 
which proves that the world is coming to an end, and I want 
to get safely away before that happens." 

" Take me with you, Chaton dear," said the cock. 

" By all means," answered the cat. " Jump on to my beau- 
tiful curly tail beside the dog." So the cock perched himself 
on Chaton's tail, and now there were two passengers. 

Away went the cat even faster than before, so as to make 
up for lost time, and presently they passed a rabbit who was 
nibbling the grass in a field. 

" Chaton, Chaton," cried the rabbit, " why are you 
running so quickly ? " 

" Don't stop me ! " answered the cat. " I've heard the 
last trump ! The end of the world is coming ! " 

" Oh, dear me ! " cried the rabbit. " What an unfor- 
tunate thing ! Don't leave me here, Chaton, for I am afraid 
to face the end of the world." 

" Very well," said Chaton. " Jump on to my beautiful 
curly tail with the dog and the cock, and I'll take you with 
me." So the rabbit also perched himself on the cat's tail, 
and now there were three of them riding there. 

Off went the cat again, but not so quickly this time, 
because of the weight on his tail, and before very long he 
came to a pond by the side of which a goose was standing. 

" Now then, now then, what's the hurry ? " asked the 
goose. " If you run so fast you'll overheat your blood and 
die of a fever." 

" It's all very well to scoff," answered the cat, " but you 
must know that the end of the world is coming. I have heard 
the last trump sound ! " 
140 




THE CAT THE DOG, THE COCK, THE RABBIT, AND THE GOOSE 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 



"My goodness!" said the goose. "This is dreadful! 
Take me with you, Chaton, and I'll be grateful for ever." 

" Very well," said the cat. " Jump on to my beautiful 
curly tail with the dog and the fox and the rabbit." So the 

goose also perched herself on the 
cat's tail, so now there were four 
passengers, and that made five 
altogether who were running 
away to escape the end of the 
world. 

All that day the cat kept on 
running, and towards dusk they 
came to a forest. 

" This seems a good place to 
rest," said Chaton. " Now then, 
master cock, fly to the top of a tree 
and see if you can espy a house 
in which we can take shelter." 

The cock flew to the top of a 
high tree and from there he saw 
a number of lights twinkling in 
the distance. The five fugitives 
thereupon set off in the direction 
from which the lights shone, and 
before long they came to a little 
village. All the people of the 
village had left their houses and 
were gathered together in the 
square, round a man dressed all in red, with a big red 
feather in his cap, who was addressing them. 

Chaton and his companions pressed close to the edge 
of the crowd and were just in time to hear these words : 
" Whoever finds the ring," said the man with the red 
feather, " and places it on the table in my palace to-morrow 
before dawn, shall have the five bags of gold which hang on 
my saddle bow." Having said this, the man in red mounted 
his horse and rode away. 
142 




' SEE IF YOU CAN ESPY A HOUSE 




"JUMP ON TO MY BEAUTIFUL CURLY TAIL" 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Chaton went up to a little peasant who was standing in 
the crowd. " Tell me, gossip," said he, " who is the man 
with the red feather, and what's all this about a ring and five 
bags of gold ? " 

" Why," said the peasant, " the man in red is the King 
of this country. He had a valuable ring which was kept in a 
tiny wooden case on the table by his bed. This afternoon a 
magpie flew in through the window, snatched up the case, 
and bore it away to its nest in the topmost boughs of the 
walnut tree on the village green. The King wants his ring 
back again, and will give the five bags of gold to anybody 
who will recover it for him." 

" I see," said Chaton; " and why don't you climb the 
walnut-tree and get the ring ? " 

" Because I have too much respect for my neck," answered 
the peasant, " and so has everybody else here. The boughs 
at the top of the tree where the nest is are so thin and slender 
that they would not bear the weight of a child, let alone a 
grown man. Gold is good, but whole limbs are better, that's 
what I say ! " 

" And I ! " " And I ! " echoed other villagers who had 
been listening to this conversation. 

" In my belief you are quite right," said Chaton seriously. 
" Let the King risk his own life if he is so anxious to recover 
his ring." But afterwards, when he had withdrawn with his 
companions to the shelter of the wood, he sang a different 
tune. 

" My friends," said he, " our fortunes are made ! As 
soon as all is quiet I will climb the tree and get the ring ; 
then you shall sit on my tail again and we'll all go off together 
to the King's palace and get the bags of gold ! " He danced 
for joy, and the dog and the cock and the goose and the 
rabbit danced with him. 

An hour afterwards the cat climbed the tree and came 
down safely with the Httle wooden box. The rabbit gnawed 
it open with his teeth, and sure enough there was the ring 
inside it. 
144 



THE END OF THE WORLD 



" Now," said Chaton, " we will all go to the King's 
palace, but I am very tired with running all day. I propose 
that the dog takes a turn at carrying us." This was agreed. 
The other four got on to the dog's back and clung there while 
he ambled off as fast 
as he could along the 
road towards the 
palace. 

Just before dawn 
they came to a wide 
river. Now it was 
the turn of the goose 
to work for the 
common good. She 
was quite used to the 
water, and one by 
one she took the 
other animals across 
on her back . Short- 
ly afterwards they 
arrived at the King's 
palace, and the cock 

flew up through the open window of the King's room with 
the ring in his beak, and placed it on the table by the bed. 
Then he awoke the King with a loud crow and claimed the 
reward, which was willingly given. 

In great glee at their good fortune the animals went on 
their way, each with his bag of gold, and every one of them 
had by this time quite forgotten his fear about the coming 
of the end of the world. They went on and on until they 
came to a place where five ways met. Then Chaton said : 
" Here we are at the parting of the ways. Let us each choose 
a road, and part good friends." 

At this moment there came along a pig with a knife and fork 
stuck in his back. In his right earwas salt ; in his left earpepper, 
and mustard was on his tail, so that everybody who was hungry 
had only to cut themselves a slice of meat and sit down to feast. 

K 145 




THE OTHER FOUR GOT ON TO THE DOG S BACK 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Our friends gladly availed themselves of this good chance, 
and I who tell you this story would willingly have done the 
same, but as soon as I went up to the pig, he ran at me with 
his head down and sent me flying through the air, and through 
the window of my house, where I fell into the chair in which 
I am now sitting, finishing this story of the wonderful adven- 
tures of Chaton, the Dog, the Cock, the Rabbit, and the 
Goose. 





The Dragon 




THE REWARD OF THE 
WORLD 

N days of old, when there were dragons in the land, 
a youthful knight was riding along the high road. It 
was a beautiful summer day, and the sun shone so 
warmly that the rider presently began to feel thirsty, so 
coming to a clear stream of water, he swung himself 
from the saddle and went to drink. As he parted the 
bushes to get to the water he heard a strange rumbling and 
roaring sound , and looking quickly in the direction from which it 
came he saw to his horror an immense dragon lying by the 
water-side pinned down by a huge mass of rock which had 
rolled down upon the creature as it came to drink. 

The knight's first impulse was to flee, for it is better 
not to meddle with dragons, even when accident has rendered 
them helpless, but before he could regain his horse the 
creature saw him, and cried, " Good knight, come and help 

147 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

me, I pray you, to escape from my miserable position. This 
rock upon my back is slowly crushing me to death." 

The knight hesitated, and was in two minds what to do 
between his fear of the dragon and his pity for its unfortunate 
plight. Seeing this, the creature called out again, saying, 
" If you will only set me free I will repay you richly, for I 
will give you The Reward of the World." 

" The Reward oj the World,'' thought the knight, " that 
will indeed be worth having ! " for he had often heard that 
dragons were the guardians of immense treasures. So, over- 
coming his fright, he went up to the creature, and at the 
cost of great exertion managed to roll away the stone that 
was pressing on its back. 

" Poof ! That's better," said the dragon, blowing a 
cloud of smoke out of its nostrils. " I had begun to think 
I was doomed to stay in that place for ever ! " He rubbed 
his sore back reflectively with one scaly paw, and looked at 
the knight, who stood waiting. 

" Well ? " said he. 

" You promised me The Reward oj the World ! " said the 
knight. 

" Did I so ? " asked the dragon, still tenderly stroking 
his back. " Well, you shall have it ! " And suddenly he 
launched himself upon the knight, winding his horrible 
coils around his body, and almost crushing him to death. 
The unfortunate young man struggled feebly, but he was 
powerless in the grip of the monster. 

" Your promise ! " he gasped. " Is this my reward for 
having saved your life ? " 

" Certainly," replied the dragon. " This is The Reward 
oJ the World. I am keeping my word ! " 

" I don't believe you," said the knight. " It is a trick 
to excuse your treachery. What a fool I was to trust a 
dragon's word ! " 

" It is just as I say," the dragon replied. " But I confess 
I owe you something, and I should hate to eat you feeling 
that you had a grievance. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll 
148 



AN IMMENSE DRAGON LYING BY THE WATER-SIDE 



THE REWARD OF THE WORLD 

submit this question to the first three people we meet along 
the road, and if they decide in my favour you must accept 
the verdict. Is it agreed ? " 

" Agreed," said the knight, who was glad of any chance 
to escape from the dragon's 
coils, so the creature re- 
leased him, and the two 
set off together down the 
road. 

They had not gone far 
before they met the dog. 

" Stay a moment, mas- 
ter dog," said the knight. 
" What do you understand 
by The Reward of the 
World?'' 

The dog replied, 
" When I was young I was 
a splendid watch-dog, and 
guarded my master's 
house against all comers. 
In those days everybody 
made a fuss of me. I had 
plenty of good food to eat, 
and my own particular 
place before the fire. Now, 
alas! I am old. My sight 
is so weak and my powers 
so feeble that I can no 

longer work for my living, and in consequence everybody 
kicks me out of their way. I eat what I can get, which is 
not much. Even the children throw stones at me, knowing 
that my teeth are not sharp enough to bite, and wherever 
I go people say, ' There is that beastly hound again ! 
Chase him away with a stick ! ' That is The Reward of the 
World:' 

There was little comfort for the knight in this, nevertheless 

149 





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Wx*^ 




^Bfr^^^ 


m^ 




^B 


ra 




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^1 




^ ■ 


MR 




^w 


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'MY SIGHT IS SO WEAK AND MY POWERS 

SO feeble" 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

he did not give up hope, but accosted the next creature 
they met, which happened to be a horse. 

" What is The Reward of the World ? " the knight asked 
him. 

" Listen," said the horse bitterly, " and I will tell you. 
All my life I have laboured diligently for one master. Day 
in and day out I dragged his cart to market, working myself 
to skin and bone in his service. Now I am grown old and 
my strength begins to fail, so that I can no longer earn my 
keep. To-day I heard him say that he was going to send 
me to the knackers' yard and sell my poor old carcass for 
a couple of crowns. That is The Reward oj the World, 
young master, and may heaven preserve you from it ! " 

" You see ! " said the dragon, as the two went on, " my 
words are already justified. Come, be sensible and let me 
eat you without further ado ! " 

" No," said the knight, " we have still one person to 
ask. Here comes a fox. Let us see what he has to say 
about the matter. Reynard, what do you understand by 
The Reward of the World? " 

" How do you mean ? " asked the fox. " What is the 
case in point ? " 

" Well, you see," explained the knight, " I found this 
dragon in a position of uncommon peril, and he promised, 
if I would rescue him, to give me The Reward of the World. 
The question now arises as to what The Reward of the World 



is." 



" I see," said Reynard thoughtfully. " His life was in 
danger, you say ? How was that ? " 

" A huge stone had fallen on to his back, pinning him 
down so that he could not move. I rolled the stone away, 
and set him free." 

The fox scratched his head and pondered. " If you 
don't mind," said he, " I'd rather like to have this matter 
made a little clearer. Where did all this happen ? " 

" A little farther back along the road, by the side of the 
stream." 
150 




" DOES THE DRAGON MIND GETTING UNDER THE 
STONE AGAIN ? " 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

" I'll come and look at the place ! " 
So the knight led Reynard to the banks of the stream, 
where he stood gazing for a time at the big stone. 

" I want to be quite sure I understand all the circum- 
stances," said he at last. " Does the dragon mind getting 
under the stone again for a moment, so that I can see exactly 
how he lay ? " 

" Not at all," said the dragon politely, and he lay down 
on the bank, while the knight and the fox together rolled 
the stone on top of him. 

" Splendid ! " said Reynard, when the dragon was safely 
pinned down. " Now everything is as it was before ! " 
Then turning to the knight, he added, " If you, knowing 
what you know now, care to release him again, you are at 
liberty to do so, but ..." And he winked slyly. There 
was no need to say more. 

" I am really very much obliged to you," said the knight, 
as he walked off down the road with Reynard, leaving the 
dragon still under the stone. " That was a capital idea of 
yours, and it certainly saved my life. I would like to show 
my gratitude in some way, and I shall be honoured if you 
will accept my hospitality for a few days." 

Reynard needed no pressing, but went home with the 
young man there and then, and thoroughly enjoyed the good 
fare with which he was provided. Since, however, a fox is 
always a fox, no matter what company he is in. Master 
Reynard could not forbear from stealing, and every night 
he crept into the hen-house and killed one or two chickens. 
When the knight discovered this he was very angry, and 
picking up a big stick he gave the fox a good thrashing 
and drove him forth. 

" That is The Reward of the World," he said to himself, 
as he watched Reynard disappearing into the distance. But 
whether he was referring to the way the fox had treated 
him, or to his own treatment of the fox, I cannot say. 




Nothing was left of the Fishes 




ONE BAD TURN BEGETS 
ANOTHER 

YBERT the Cat and Courtoys the Dog were 
very great friends — that is to say they were as 
friendly as their natures would let them be. 
Both of them were exceedingly greedy and 
selfish. The Cat was spiteful and the Dog was 
sullen. Master Tyb was always willing to 
give up to the dog what he did not need himself, and on his 
part, Courtoys never stole the cat's food while the cat was 
looking. Neither was loath to play a mean trick upon the 
other if he could do so without injury to himself, but except 
for these little matters they were quite in accord, and very 
friendly, as I said before, and on the whole they got on very 
well together. 

There came a time when, in spite of Tybert's shyness and 
Courtoys' strength, they could by no means find anything to 

153 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

eat. For two days not a morsel of food had passed the lips 
of either ; and this made them very bad tempered. 

" I wish I'd never seen you," said Courtoys to Tyb. 
" A fine partner you are, upon my word, when you can't 
find food for us. Where are those wonderful wits of yours, 
of which you are always boasting." 

" In my head," answered Tyb spitefully. " And such 
as they are, they have to do duty for two. If you'd talk less, 
and think more, and use your eyes, we would be better off. 
Here is a cart coming along the road ; perhaps we shall find 
our dinner inside it ! " 

Sure enough, a heavy wagon was rumbling along the road 
towards them, driven by a peasant with a round and rather 
stupid face. As it came nearer, Tyb and Courtoys sniffed 
the air, and the water ran out of the corners of their mouths. 

" Fish," said Tybert ravenously. 

" Fish ! " echoed Courtoys. " Here's a chance to exercise 
those wits of yours. How can we get it ? " 

" I have a plan," answered the Cat. " Come quickly and 
hide yourself with me in the ditch until the wagon has passed, 
and I will tell you all about it ! " 

So it was done. The wagon rumbled by, the scent of 
the fish with which it was laden filling the air, and the driver 
went on calmly smoking his pipe, little dreaming that four 
hungry eyes were gazing at him through the bushes that 
bordered the side of the road. 

" Now then," cried Tybert, " our time has come. Follow 
the wagon and don't let it out of your sight for a moment, 
but take care that the driver does not see you. I shall go 
on in front and stretch myself out on the road, pretending 
to be dead. It's odds but what the driver, seeing me lying 
there, will covet my skin, and will pick me up and throw me 
into the cart. Once there, I'll throw the fish out to you, and 
you will know what to do with it." 

" Oh, yes, I'll know what to do with it," said Courtoys to 
himself, with a grin, and, keeping well out of sight of the 
driver, he followed the wagon. 
154 




THE BIGGEST AND FATTEST FISH 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

Tybert's plan worked to perfection. He ran on for about 
a quarter of a mile, keeping to the fields bordering the road, 
and then stretched himself out at full length, with his mouth 
open as though he were dead. 

i<l" Oho ! " said the peasant, as he drove up. " What's 
this ? A dead cat ! I'll take him with me, and sell his skin 
for a few sous. This time next week some fine lady will be 
wearing him round her neck, thinking he's sable." And 

with that he dismounted, 
picked up the cat and slung 
him carelessly into the 
wagon on top of the heap 
of fish. 

Hardly was he back in 
his place, than Tybert 
arose and began to pick 
I \\ out the biggest and fattest 

^1.,. ^^:::^ fish and throw them into 

^^jK^^^^ ^^ the road. He had to be 

^H^J^~~~~k very careful in doing this, 

^^^I^M^^'^^^-v^.^^ because now and again the 

^^^^^^MAi*»^^'~^-^ I peasant turned his head. 

STRETCHED HIMSELF OUT AT FULL LENGTH OUCC Whcn 3. VCry big fish 

was tumbled out, the noise 
of its fall aroused the peasant, who swung round sharply, 
and Tybert was only just in time to avert discovery by 
laying himself out and pretending to be dead as before. 

When he had thrown out what he considered was a 
sufficient quantity, Tybert rested awhile, so that the dog 
could collect the spoils, and then jumped from the wagon 
to go and claim his share. When he came up to Courtoys, 
however, he found to his dismay that nothing was left of the 
fish but a heap of bones. 

" That was a splendid plan of yours, brother," said 
Courtoys, licking his lips. " The fish were dehcious, and I 
hardly feel hungry at all now ! Do make haste and take your 
share ! " And he waved his paw invitingly towards the heap 
156 




ONE BAD TURN BEGETS ANOTHER 

of bones. Tybert gave him one look, and then grinned as 
though in enjoyment of an excellent joke. Not by word or 
action did he give any sign of the anger which was consuming 
him, but he determined to have his revenge. 

A day or two later his chance came. Lurking in his usual 
stealthy way in a farmyard, he saw the farmer go into the 
house with a fine big ham, which he hung by a cord on a nail 
in the kitchen wall. Away he ran to Courtoys and told him 
what he had seen. 

" Well," said Courtoys surlily, " and what about it ? " 

" Why," answered Tybert. " There is no reason why 
we should not feast on that ham, you and I. It will be the 
easiest thing in the world to steal it. The latch of the kitchen 
window is broken, and it cannot be locked. All you have to 
do is to go there to-night, creep through the window, pull 
down the ham, and throw it out to me." 

" Why can't you get it yourself ? " asked Courtoys sus- 
piciously. 

"Ah," said the cat, " I am not strong enough to pull it 
down." 

" And what about the farmer's dogs ? I seem to re- 
member hearing they are savage brutes ! " 

" Well, of course, if you're afraid ..." answered the 
cat disdainfully. 

" Afraid yourself ! " cried Courtoys. " You leave this 
to me." 

So that very night, when the moon had set, the two crept 
into the farmyard, and the dog managed to get through the 
window into the kitchen unobserved. The next moment 
he had pulled down the ham and had thrown it out of the 
window to Tybert, who was waiting below. Tybert seized 
it in his mouth and ran off, but as soon as he reached the gate 
he gave a series of such blood-curdling miaows, that he 
roused every dog on the farm. Out they came, hair bristling, 
and teeth flashing, just in time to catch our friend Courtoys 
as he jumped down from the window. 

Then occurred a ferocious fight. With his back to the 

157 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

wall Courtoys put up a sturdy resistance, but he was very 
badly mangled indeed before he managed to escape. With 
one ear torn off and one eye closed, bleeding from many 
wounds and panting with his exertions, he limped painfully 
up to where the cat awaited him. 

" My poor friend," cried Tybert. " Are you badly 
hurt ? Never mind, the ham was worth it — it simply melted 
in the mouth. I have already eaten my share, and I willingly 
give you yours ! " So saying, he pointed to the greasy string 
by which the ham had been suspended, and which was now 
all that remained. Courtoys gazed at it blankly. 

" You see," explained Tybert calmly, as he prepared to 
take his departure, " a cord is worth a good many fish- 
bones ! " 





"Why are you blowing your Soup?" 



THE PEASANT AND THE 
SATYRS 




NE cold winter's day a peasant set out on a 
journey which led him through the depths of a 
forest into which he had not hitherto been. 
The result was that he lost his way, and after 
wandering about for many hours in the hope of 
finding it again, he found himself, just as dusk 
was coming on, in a little clearing where he was overjoyed to 
see a small house with a cheerful light in the window. " Here 
is a chance of supper and a bed," thought the peasant, and 
he made haste to go up to the cottage door. 

Now this house in the clearing was not inhabited by men, 
but by some strange forest folk who were called satyrs. If 
you want to know what they were like, you must look at the 
pictures. Certainly the peasant had never seen anything 
like them before, although he had often heard of them, and 

159 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

when he nearly tumbled over the little satyr children who were 
playing in the snow outside the house door, he was the most 
surprised man in all those parts. It was too late to draw 
back however, so he went boldly up to the door and gave a 
loud knock. 

" Come in ! " cried a gruff voice, and the peasant accord- 
ingly went in and found himself facing the Father of all the 
Satyrs, who had a long beard and a pair of horns jutting from 
his forehead. The poor fellow's knees trembled underneath 
him for fright, especially when he saw all the other satyrs, 
the mother and the uncles and the aunts, glowering at him. 

" Please forgive me for my intrusion," said he, " but I 
have lost my way in the woods, and I am half dead with 
hunger and cold. It would be an act of great kindness if 
you would give me some food and allow me to take shelter 
for the night." So saying, to give point to his remarks, he 
set to work to blow upon his chilled fingers, which indeed 
were blue with the cold. 

" Why are you blowing your fingers ? " asked the Father 
of all the Satyrs curiously. 

" Why, to warm them," answered the peasant, and he 
blew harder than before. 

" Well, sit down," said the Satyr. "As it happens we 
are just about to have supper, and you are welcome to share 
it with us." 

So the peasant sat down to supper, and all the Satyr 
family sat down too, and watched him with big unblinking 
eyes, so that he felt very uncomfortable. A big basin of soup 
was set before him, and finding it very hot, he began to blow 
upon it. 

At this all the Satyr family cried out in surprise, and the 
Father Satyr said, " Why are you blowing your soup ? " 

" To cool it," answered the peasant. " It is too hot, and 
I am afraid it may scald my mouth." 

Another and a louder cry of surprise came from all the 
Satyrs, but the Father cried out loudest of all, and seemed 
very indignant. " Come," he said, advancing to the peasant 
160 



THE SATYRS' VILLAGE 




" THERE IS NO PLACE IN MY HOUSE FOR A MAN WHO 
CAN BLOW HOT AND COLD ' 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

and taking him by the collar. " Out you go ! There is no 
place in my house for a man who can blow hot and cold 
with the same breath. That smells too much of sorcery or 
magic. Out you go, I say, and practise your spells in the 
forest." 

So the poor peasant had to go supperless and spend the 
night in the woods, with no shelter but the trees, and the 
snow for coverlet. 

And, if you wish to know when all this happened, all I 
can tell you is that it was a very long time ago, in the days 
when fishes flew, and cats had wings. 





The Two Friends 




THE TWO FRIENDS AND 
THE BARREL OF GREASE 

DOG and a wolf who were very great friends 
set up house together, and agreed to share 
equally any food they might obtain. One day 
they managed to steal a barrel of grease from the 
house of a countryman who lived close by, and 
having no immediate need of it, they decided to 
put; it away until the winter, when they might be glad of 
anything they could get to appease their hunger. So the 
barrel of grease was carefully hidden away in the cellar. 

All went well for some time, and then the wolf began to 
think longingly of the hidden store. Every time he thought 
of the grease he imagined himself licking it up, and at last he 
could withstand the temptation no longer, so he went to the 
dog and said : " I shall be out all day to-morrow. A cousin 

163 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

of mine has just had a little son, and he has sent for me to go 
and be godfather at the christening." 

" Very well, my friend," answered the dog. " Go by all 
means. They have paid you a great honour by asking you, 
and of course you cannot refuse." 

The wolf departed, but he went no farther than the 
cellar, where he spent the whole of the day by the barrel of 
grease, eating and eating until he could hold no more. Late 
at night he returned, licking his chops, and the dog said : 
" Well, my friend, did everything go off well ? " 

" Splendidly, thank you ! " answered the wolf. 

" Good ! And what name did they give the child ? " 

" Oh," said the wolf, thinking of the barrel of grease, 
" they called him Begun" 

" What a strange name ! " cried the dog, " I never heard 
the like of it in my life. However, every one to his taste ! " 

A day or two later the wolf once again began to think of 
the delicious food in the cellar, so he told the dog that he had 
just received another summons from a different cousin, who 
also had a baby to which she wished him to stand godfather. 
" I wish to goodness they would leave me alone ! " he said, 
pretending to be very much annoyed. " Anybody would 
think that I had nothing else to do but to stand godfather to 
other people's brats ! " 

" You shouldn't be so good-natured," laughed the dog. 
" It is clear that you make a very good godfather, or you would 
not be so much in demand." 

Away went the wolf and spent a second satisfying day with 
the barrel of grease. When he returned the dog asked him 
the name of the child. 

*' Half-Done;' said the wolf. 

" Bah ! " cried the dog, " that is an even sillier name 
than the other. I can't think what parents are coming to — 
in my time plain Jean or Jacques was good enough for any- 
body." 

The wolf made no reply, being in fact fast asleep, for he 
had dined very well, and was drowsy. A day or two after- 
164 




"WHERE HAS ALL OUR GREASE GONE?" 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

wards, however, he played the same trick again, and devoured 
the last of the fat in the barrel. This time, when asked the 
name of the child to whom he had stood godfather, he 
answered : " All-done" 

The dog had no suspicion of the way he had been de- 
ceived, and all went well until the winter came and food 
became difficult to procure. Then one day the dog said : 
" It seems to me that the time has come to tap our barrel of 
grease. What do you say, friend ? Weren't we wise to put 
it away for a time like this ! " 

" I believe you," answered the wolf. 

" Come then, let us go to the cellar and enjoy the fruits of 
our prudence." 

So off they went to the cellar, where they found the 
barrel in the very place they had left it, but with nothing 
inside it. The dog looked at the wolf, and the wolf looked 
at the dog, and of the two the wolf seemed the more surprised. 

" What's this } " cried the dog. " Where has our grease 
gone ? " Then, looking at the wolf suspiciously : " This 
is some of your work, my friend ! " 

" Oh, indeed ! " said the wolf, " and since when has it 
been proved that dogs do not like grease ? " 

" You mean to accuse me of stealing it ? " cried the dog 
angrily. 

" One of the two of us must have taken it, for nobody else 
knew it was here ! " 

" It was certainly not I," 

" Well," said the wolf, " it is no use squabbling over the 
matter. Fortunately there is a way of discovering which of 
us is the culprit. Obviously the one who has eaten all that 
grease must be absolutely full of fat. Let us both go to 
sleep in the sunshine. At the end of an hour or two the 
heat will melt the grease which will soak through and show 
on the body of the one who is the thief." 

Feeling quite secure in his innocence, the dog willingly 
agreed to this plan, and the two went out and lay down 
in a sheltered place, where the heat of the sun was strong. 
1 66 



THE BARREL OF GREASE 

After a time the dog began to yawn, and in less than 
half an hour he was sound asleep, but the wolf had a 
good reason for not following his example, and although he 
closed his eyes to deceive his friend, he remained wide awake. 

Presently, having made sure that the dog was slumbering 
peacefully, he arose and tiptoed softly down to the cellar. 
There he collected with his long tongue, every bit of the 
grease that still remained sticking to the sides and bottom of 
the barrel, and returning to the sleeper, carefully smeared the 
grease over his jaws, back, and thighs. Several times he did 
this, until the dog was covered with a thin greasy film. 
Then he lay down again and once more pretended to sleep. 

A little while afterwards the dog woke up, and found the 
grease all over his body. He could not make out how it got 
there, and while he was still regarding himself with a look of 
blank surprise, the wolf cried : " Ah, now we know who 
was the thief ! The grease has betrayed you, my friend ! " 

The poor dog looked very sheepish, and had not a word to 
say for himself. He puzzled over the matter until his head 
ached, and at last he came to the conclusion that he must 
have been sleep-walking and have stolen the grease without 
knowing it — a conclusion with which the wolf entirely agreed. 
















Mrs. Bruin and Reynard 




WHY THE BEAR HAS A 
STUMPY TAIL 

[NE very cold winter, when the ground was covered 
with snow and the ponds and rivers were 
frozen hard, Reynard the Fox and all the other 
animals went out to enjoy themselves by sliding 
and skating on the ice. After a time Reynard 
began to feel hungry, so he wandered off by 
himself in search of something to eat. He nosed about here, 
and he nosed about there ; he lay in wait behind bushes in 
the hope of being able to catch a bird ; he lurked by the walls 
of farmhouses ready to spring out upon any unsuspecting 
chicken that might show itself, but all in vain. The 
birds were wary, and the fowls were all safe in the hen- 
houses. 

Disappointed with his lack of success Reynard betook 
himself to the river, now covered with a glistening sheet of 
i68 




" AFTER A TIME THE FISH WILL COME TO BITE AT IT " 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

ice, and there, under the shelter of a bank, he found a hole in 
the ice which had not been frozen over. He sat down to 
watch the hole, and presently a little fish popped up its head 
for a breath of air. Reynard's paw darted, and the next 
moment the unfortunate creature lay gasping on the ice. 
Fish after fish the fox caught in this way, and when he had 
quite satisfied his hunger he strung the remainder on a stick 
and took his departure, not forgetting first of all to offer up a 
prayer for the repose of his victims. 

He had not gone far before he met Mrs. Bruin, who had 
also come out in search of something to eat. When she 
saw Reynard with his fine catch of fish, she opened her eyes, 
I can tell you, and said : " Wherever did you get all 
those fine fishes from, cousin ? They make my mouth 
water ! I am so hungry that I could bite the head off an 
iron nail ! " 

" Ah," said Reynard slyly, " wouldn't you just like to 
know ! " 

" It is what I'm asking you," said Mrs. Bruin, " You 
would surely not be so mean as to keep the good news to 
yourself ! " 

" I don't know so much about that," answered Reynard, 
" but I have a certain fondness for you, cousin, so come 
along with me and I will show you the place where I caught 
the fish." 

Nothing loath, the bear followed, and presently they came 
to the hole in the ice. 

" Do you see that hole, cousin ? " said Reynard. " That 
is where the fish come up to breathe. All you have to do is 
to sit on the ice and let your tail hang down into the water. 
After a time the fish will come to bite at it, but don't you 
move. Sit quite still until the evening ; then you will find a 
score of fishes on your tail and you can pull them out 
all together." 

Mrs. Bruin was delighted with the plan and immediately 
sat down and dipped her tail into the water. 

" That's the way," said Reynard. " Now I'll just be 
170 



"ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TO SIT ON THE ICE" 



WHY THE BEAR HAS A STUMPY TAIL 



walking home to see to my dinner, but I'll be back presently. 
Be careful to keep quite still, or you'll spoil everything 1 " 

So for the next three hours Mrs. Bruin sat on the ice with 
her tail in the water, and very cold it was, but she consoled 
herself with the thought of the delicious meal she would have 
when the fish were landed. 

Late in the afternoon Reynard returned, " Well, 
cousin," said he, " how do 
you feel ? " 

"Very cold," said Mrs. 
Bruin, with her teeth 
chattering. " My tail is 
so numb that I hardly 
know I've got one ! " 

"Does it feel heavy?" 
asked Reynard anxiously. 

" Very heavy," said 
Mrs. Bruin. 

" There must be hun- 
dreds of fish on it ! " said 
Reynard. He left the 
bank and walked round 
the bear, observing that 
the water in the hole had frozen over, and that Mrs. Bruin's 
tail was held firmly in the ice. 

" I think you may safely pull up now," he went on, " but 
you must be careful to land all the fish together. There is 
only one way to do that : you must give a strong, sharp, 
sudden pull and take them by surprise. Now then, are you 
ready .'' One, two, three . . . ! " 

At the word three Mrs. Bruin rose on her hind legs and 
gave a mighty jerk, but her tail was so firmly embedded in 
the ice that it would not come out. 

" My v/ord," cried Reynard, " you have caught the whole 
river-full. Persevere, cousin — now then, a long pull and a 
strong pull ! " 

" Ouf ! " grunted Mrs. Bruin, " ouf, ouf . . . ah ! " 

171 











£Nj^^ 1 




1^<IM 


1^ 








4jn 



'ONE, TWO, THREE 



I " 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND iMEN 

And then she suddenly tumbled head over heels on the ice, 
as with one mighty jerk, she snapped her beautiful bushy 
tail clean off close to the roots. 

When she had gathered her scattered wits together well 
enough to understand what had happened, she went to look 
for Reynard, but he had suddenly remembered an important 
engagement elsewhere, and was not to be found. And from 
that time down to this every bear has been born with a little 
stumpy tail. 





Margot and the Cat 




THE WITCH'S CAT 

"NCE upon a time there was a wicked old witch 
who Hved all alone in the topmost chamber of 
a tall and gloomy tower. There she sat day 
after day with her ugly head resting on her 
hands, peering out through a sht in the wall 
upon the countryside. Her only companion was 
a big black tom-cat, who sat by her side in the darkened 
chamber, his eyes shining like green fire in the gloom. 

One day as the witch sat there, she saw a little girl gather- 
ing berries in the wood. The sight made her show her 
toothless gums in a malicious grin and she muttered to 
herself : " Wait there, wait there, my ducky, my darling, 
till I come to you, for your flesh will be very sweet." Then 
she put on a long cloak and took a walking-staff^ in her hand 
and went down the stairs. 

Now the little girl, whose name was Margot, had strayed 
very far from home in her eagerness to gather the ripe berries, 

173 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

and she was in a part of the country which was quite strange 
to her. Had she happened to meet anybody on her way 
they would have warned her not to go near the witch's tower, 
but she had not met a soul all day, and so she had no idea of 
the dreadful danger that was threatening her. She went on 
gathering her berries, light-heartedly humming a tune, 
until her basket was nearly full, and then she sat down at the 
foot of a tree to rest. 

Presently she saw an old woman coming towards her. 
It was the witch, who had muffled herself up in her cloak, so 
that her face could not easily be seen 

" Good-day, my dear," said the witch. " Will you give 
me a few of those ripe berries ? " 

" Of course I will," answered Margot. " Take as many 
as you like, I can easily gather some more." So the witch 
took a handful of berries, and sat down by Margot 's side to 
eat them. And all the time she was eating she was gazing 
greedily at the little girl's white neck and rosy cheeks, but 
Margot could not see the hateful look in the witch's eyes 
because the cloak hid her face. 

" Where do you live, little girl } " asked the witch after a 
while. 

Margot told her, and the witch said : " You must be 
very tired with walking all that way. If you will come to my 
house I will give you a bowl of milk and a slice of currant 
cake, and you shall see all the wonderful things that I keep 
in my cupboards." 

So Margot went with the witch into the gloomy tower, 
not so much because she wanted the milk or the cake, but to 
see the pretty things in the cupboards, and no sooner was she 
within than the witch fell upon her, and bound her fast with 
a cord, and carried her up to the topmost room, where the 
cat was sitting blinking its green eyes. Then the old witch 
opened the door of a dark cupboard, and pushed poor Margot 
inside, for she meant to keep her there until she had grown 
bigger and fatter, so that she would make a more satisfying 
meal. To this end the witch brought her plenty of rich 

174 



THE WITCH'S CAT 

food every day, and from time to time she would feel Margot's 
arm to see whether she was plump enough to go into the pot. 




She meant to keep her there until she had grown Bigger and Fatter 

Poor child, how frightened she was, and how miserable at 
being kept in that dark cupboard all alone. She cried nearly 
all day long, but there was nobody to hear her except the 
witch's big black cat, and he was a silent animal who did not 
show his feelings. Margot was almost as sorry for him as 
she was for herself, for the witch often beat him unmercifully, 
and the girl tried to comfort him by giving him pieces from 

175 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

her dinner, which she pushed out through the crack under 
the door. 

One day when the old witch had gone out as usual, leaving 
Margot a prisoner, the girl was surprised to hear a voice 
speaking to her from the room beyond. " Margot, Margot," 
said the voice, " don't cry any more, but listen to me." 
" Who are you ? " asked the little girl. 
" I am the witch's cat," the voice went on. "I am going 
to push the key of the cupboard underneath the door. Take 
it and let yourself out, but make haste, for you have no time 
to waste ! " 

'* Thank you, thank you," said Margot, when she found 
herself free. " But how is it that you are able to talk ? I 
did not know that cats could speak." 

" They can't, as a rule," said the witch's cat, " but never 
mind that now. The witch may return at any moment, and 
we must get you safely out of her reach." 

" Yes, yes," said Margot, " I must go at once. I will 
run like the wind ! " 

" That is no use," said the cat. " Before you had got 
half-way home the witch would overtake you." 

" Then what must I do ? Is there anywhere I can 
hide?" 

" When she returns and finds you gone she will ransack 
every corner of the tower. Not even a mouse could escape 
her keen eyes." 

" Oh dear ! oh dear ! " said Margot, beginning to cry 
again. " Do help me to escape, kind cat, and I will be grateful 
to you all my Hfe." 

" Of course I will help you," answered the cat, " that is 
why I let you out of the cupboard. Take this piece of carpet, 
and when the witch has almost overtaken you, throw it on to 
the ground and it will turn into a wide river. That will 
delay her for some time, because she cannot swim, but if she 
manages to get across, and overtakes you again, throw down 
this comb, which will immediately change into a dense 
forest. You may plunge into it without fear, for a way will 
176 



THE WITCH'S CAT 

open before you between the trees, but the witch will have 
to cut a way through, foot by foot, with her knife ; and long 
before she has done that you will be safely home," 




Paddling with her Broom 

Margot thanked the cat, and having taken the carpet and 
the comb, she fled swiftly down the stairs. 

A short time afterwards the witch came home, and when 
she discovered that her prisoner had escaped she howled with 
rage. Mounting to the very roof of the tower, she gazed out 
upon the countryside, and soon descried the figure of the 

M 177 



FOLK TALES OF BEASTS AND MEN 

little girl, running as fast as she could in the direction of her 
home. 

" I'll have you yet," muttered the witch, and away she 
went after her. 

Margot saw her coming, and redoubled her speed, but 
all to no avail, for the witch gained upon her rapidly. Soon 
she heard her hissing breath, and looking fearfully over her 
shoulder, saw the baleful look of triumph in her eyes. 

Quickly then, Margot took out the strip of carpet and laid 
it upon the ground. Immediately it turned into a wide and 
swiftly flowing river. The witch gave a cry of rage, and tried 
to wade after her, but the flood mounted swiftly, first to her 
knees, and then to her waist. Another moment and she 
would have been swept away, but taking a nutshell from her 
pocket she set it afloat upon the waters, muttering a charm 
as she did so. Then the nutshell turned into a little boat, 
into which the old crone pulled herself, and, paddling with 
her broom, made shift to cross the river. 

The delay had given Margot a good start, but the witch 
wore enchanted boots which enabled her to cover the ground 
at a wonderful rate. Ten minutes more and she was once 
again at Margot's heels. 

Then the little girl drew out the comb and flung it behind 
her. Immediately a dense forest sprang up, and Margot 
fled into it, through an alley that opened itself before her. 
Spluttering with anger, the witch drew her knife to hack her 
way through the wood, but long before she had cut a dozen 
yards Margot was safely home and in her mother's arms. 

The old witch made her way back to the tower, and the 
things she said were so terrible that the very air was poisoned, 
and the grass by the roadside withered and turned black. 
No sooner had she set foot within her doorway, however, 
than she crumbled to dust, and a wind arose and blew the 
dust to all quarters of the heavens. 

So that was the end of the old witch, for her power ceased 
as soon as one of her victims managed to escape. As for the 
black cat, nobody ever saw him again, but it was whispered 
1^8 



THE WITCH'S CAT 

that he was really a Prince whom the wicked old crone had 
captured years before, and given the shape of a cat by en- 
chantment. By helping Margot to escape he had released 
himself from the spell that bound him, and was enabled 
to return to his father's kingdom. 




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